NEXT YEAR © 2017
Creative Editions
Author: Ruth Vander Zee / Illustrator: Gary Kelley
School Library Journal, Sheri Reda, September 2017
 

This illustrated first-person narrative opens on Black Sunday, a day which begins cool and clear but unfolds to produce midnight in the middle of the day. Kelleys illustrations quickly progress from nostalgic representations of children playing to frightening expressionistic depictions of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. The narrative darkens, too, describing knives of sand that invade the narrators home and turn his dad into a beaten-up little kid. There is no sugarcoating in this poetic description of the Dust Bowl. In fact, the eras challenges are so clear that its hard to understand why the narrators family decides to stay rather than migrate with most other farmers. However, the austere beauty of the plains and the pride of Western farmers come through beautifully and lend readers a sense that they have shared an experience rather than listened to a lecture. Weak on facts and strong on sorrow, this picture book for older elementary students nonetheless offers a useful and beautiful introduction to life in the United States in the 1930s.