Graphic Novel Review: The Great American Dust Bowl

Graphic Novel Review: The Great American Dust BowlThe Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on October 8th 2013
Genres: Graphic Novel
Pages: 80 pages
Buy on Amazon

A speck of dust is a tiny thing. In fact, five of them could fit into the period at the end of this sentence.

On a clear, warm Sunday, April 14, 1935, a wild wind whipped up millions upon millions of these specks of dust to form a duster—a savage storm—on America's high southern plains.

The sky turned black, sand-filled winds scoured the paint off houses and cars, trains derailed, and electricity coursed through the air. Sand and dirt fell like snow—people got lost in the gloom and suffocated . . . and that was just the beginning.

Don Brown brings the Dirty Thirties to life with kinetic, highly saturated, and lively artwork in this graphic novel of one of America's most catastrophic natural events: the Dust Bowl.

The Great American Dust Bowl is a graphic novel that brings the Dust Bowl to life through fantastic graphics. I picked this one up at the library based on the cover alone, and was not surprised to find it already getting quite a lot of praise from librarians everywhere. The cover itself has such a impacting image of what the Dust Bowl looked like in the dirty 30s.

Giving a lot of information throughout the book, it makes it an ideal in graphic nonfiction. I didn’t feel stifled by the information, rather it tied in so well with the images that you really could not tell you were learning so much. The artwork fits so well with the information that it flowed from page to page and stunned me, who already knew of the background of this story.

The Great American Dust Bowl would be a great introduction to the Dust Bowl and to give more emphasis on the disaster it was during that time period. I would love to see teachers using this to introduce a unit or to help struggling readers get a further grasp of the era. Don Brown is a genius when it comes to writing great nonfiction for children and this graphic novel is a moving example of how interesting nonfiction can be.

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15 responses to “Graphic Novel Review: The Great American Dust Bowl

  1. Another cool graphic novel for me. I’m happy I found your blog (thanks, Bout of Books!).
    I’d pick it up because of the cover indeed. Can’t wait to read it!

  2. A dust storm?! This is definitely going on my TBR. I am excited to see what the artwork looks like in this graphic novel. Cover looks beautiful as well.

  3. I’ve not seen much nonfiction in graphic novels but is a really good idea for those who are more visual learners! Might have to pick this up since I don’t actually know that much about the topic

  4. Part of this cover made me think of another cover or a piece of it while I was doing the scavenger I was looking I’m like I don’t see that book anywhere.

  5. I like this to use as a fun addition to my U.S. History plans coming up. Helpful to breakup the history reading with meaningful movies/shows and easier reads at times on certain events.

  6. I have read several books set during the dust bowl and have always found the topic/time period fascinating. I might give this one a try (even though it is a graphic novel).

    Thanks for the review!

  7. Rikki S

    I’m definitely reading this book! I would love to pair this with Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.

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