Years of DustTitle: Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl
Author: Albert Marrin
ISBN: 9780525420774
Pages: 128 pages
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books, c2009.

“At noon, darkness enveloped the earth. It seemed like an evil spirit had splashed an immense bucket of black paint across the sky. Within minutes, from horizon to horizon, the sun disappeared and noontime became “midnight.” But such a midnight! There was no moon, mo stars, no meteorites flashing across the heavens. Instead, billowing clouds of dust, some rising more than two miles into the air, whipped across the plains. Driven by howling winds, the clouds easily overtook speeding cars. As the dust fell back to earth, it drifted like dirty, crunchy snow, choking roads and bringing trains to a grinding halt. Worse, the dust buried crops and livestock, destroying farmers’ homes and livlihoods.” (2)

Award winning author Albert Marrin presents a comprehensive discussion of the Dust Bowl in his newest book Years of Dust. Marrin takes readers all the way back to the 1700s to explain how pioneers and westward expansion effected the economy and ecology of the plains and led to the dust storms. He also talks about the effects of the storm, which caused over 2 million people to leave the area in search of a better life. Finally, he talks about possible solutions to the problems, dust storms around the world, and how events around the world can effect our planet. Filled with black and white photos, drawings, and charts that tell the story, children and adults will be enthralled.

Albert Marrin’s book was a complete joy to read. The cover is compelling, and although the lack of color might not age nicely (we’ll have to see) it and the black and white graphics throughout fit with the bleak tone of dust. All of his graphics have captions, identifing place, year, and person when available. The only complaint is that a very large portion are taken by Dorothea Lange, who through the course of the book readers learn is not the most reliable of sources. Her pictures are compelling and well done though, so it makes sense that their used. A very detailed bibliography, index, and footnote citations make it great for classroom use for an example of quality research/reporting and also will provide extensive future reading for kids and adults. It includes multiple formats, including websites, making it current and relevant to kids of today. This book makes me want to find the rest of his books, and at less then 150 pages, it’s a great book for reports for those reluctant readers.