Reviews for Children of the Great Depression


Booklist Reviews 2005 December #2
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 5-8. "It's my sister's turn to eat," a hungry child tells her teacher. Quotes like that one bring home what it was like to be young and poor in Depression America. This stirring photo-essay combines such unforgettable personal details with a clear historical overview of the period and black-and-white photos by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and many others. As Freedman says, these images "convey in human terms the true meaning of economic statistics." His signature plainspoken prose does that, too, on every spacious, double-page spread, whether he is focusing on differences of race and class or on child sharecroppers, factory workers, migrant farm laborers, or boxcar kids. There are many books about particular people and regions during this period--among them, Jerry Stanley's Children of the Dust Bowl (1992); Milton Meltzer's Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (1991); and Freedman's own award-winning biographies of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt--and Freedman quotes from a number of them, as well as from adult sources, documenting everything in a final bibliographic essay and notes that are a rich part of the story, not the usual cramped, dutiful acknowledgments. An excellent starting place for investigating the Depression in middle school and junior high, this eloquent book will also appeal to older readers, including adults who know family stories about how it was or, possibly, lived the history themselves. ((Reviewed December 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
During the Depression it was hard for many youngsters to attend school and find work, food, and clothes; they also encountered hardship riding the rails and escaping the Dust Bowl. Freedman never minimizes this bleakness, and the picture that emerges (through both text and well-chosen archival photos) allows readers to examine the factors that brought about the Depression and the ones that resulted from it. Bib., ind. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #1
"Though we are poor," wrote a young North Carolinian to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, "we try to hold off embarrassment, for you know it is 'hard to be broke, and harder to admit it.'" During the Great Depression it was hard for youngsters to attend school and find work, food, and clothes; they also encountered hardship riding the rails and escaping the Dust Bowl. Freedman never minimizes this bleakness, but he also addresses childhood diversions of the Depression, such as movies and music. The picture that emerges (through both text and well-chosen archival photographs taken by Farm Security Administration photographers, including Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans) allows today's readers, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these Depression survivors, to examine both the multitude of political, social, and economic factors that brought about the Depression and the ones that resulted from it. A chart showing the cost of everyday goods (a quart of milk, 10¢; a used 1929 Ford, $57.50) and average salaries (school teachers earned $1,227.00 per year) delivers concrete data with which to create a sense of the times, an understanding enhanced by the numerous first-person accounts and Freedman's many comparisons: "Out of nearly thirty-four million American households in 1938, about twenty-seven million, or 79 percent, possessed radios. Today, 98.2 percent of American households have at least one TV set." Source notes and a descriptive bibliography encourage further inquiry. Index not seen. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2005 December #1
In this magnificent volume, superb photographs by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn and others help to tell the story of the Great Depression. Every spread includes either a full-page photograph or several smaller shots. Great use is made of letters, diaries and memoirs to tell the story so beautifully complemented by the photographs. Freedman is a master of the photo-essay, and this is one of his best. More wide-ranging than most histories of the era, this tells, in clear and simple prose, the story of dust storms, soup kitchens, Hoovervilles, kids at work, kids on trains, popular culture and the beginning of WWII. Chapter notes are thorough, and the selected bibliography includes some of the best resources for young readers. An excellent companion to other fine photo-essays on the period, such as Elizabeth Partridge's Restless Spirit (1998) and This Land Was Made for You and Me (2002). (picture sources, index) (Nonfiction. 9+) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection - March 2006
This book is another fine example of the great nonfiction material Russell Freedman writes. The text is interesting, straightforward, and easy to understand. Freedman covers hard times children suffered during the Great Depression at home, school, work (both in factories and in the fields), and on the go whether moving or riding in boxcars. Included are many direct quotes from children taken from a variety of resources. The many b&w photographs Freedman has selected will draw in readers. These pictures truly depict the hard times that many of the young of that generation lived through during the Depression era. Freedman also provides a few photos that show people still tried to make time for a little recreation and relaxation. Readers will understand why it is that children had to grow up way too soon during this period. Freedman's words and picture choices are well presented, offering young people today a true sense of this dire time in our history. A table of contents, end notes, a selected bibliography, and an index are included. The book will be useful for teachers looking for supplemental material for units on the Depression and for middle and high school students needing report material. Highly Recommended. Melinda Miller-Widrick, K-12 Library Media Specialist, Colton-Pierrepont Central School, Colton, New York © 2006 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 October #3

Freedman, author of the Newbery Medal-winning Lincoln: A Photobiography , tackles the Great Depression with the same flair as he does in his previous books. He creates a vivid visual picture of what life during the period was like for children with pictures from esteemed Depression-era photographers, such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Russell Lee, and incorporates abundant quotes from real children, including the particularly poignant experiences of African-Americans, who were "the last hired and the first fired." Freedman also lightens the mood with humorous touches, such as one girl's letter to Eleanor Roosevelt in which she requested a loan and "solemnly pledge[d] to pay you back within 2 years." From Hoovervilles--the ramshackle settlements on the outskirts of cities--to migrant families forced out of their homes by a "black blizzard" of dust, to boxcar kids who took to the nation's rails to escape deprivation at home, Freedman captures the historical scope of young lives during the Great Depression. His portrayal is at once bleak and uplifting, painting a picture of children without food because, in the words of one girl, "It's my sister's turn to eat," but also of young Americans determined to survive. The book's final pages assume a sanguine note, reminding readers that these children were courageously optimistic. They found joy in little pleasures, such as the movies and their favorite radio shows, and never stopped believing that that life would be better one day. Ages 9-up. (Nov.)

[Page 70]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 December

Gr 4-8 -Few authors are as well suited as Freedman to present a clear and understandable outline of this period. His prose is straightforward and easily comprehensible, making sense of even the complexities of the stock-market crash. The use of primary sources is outstanding. This is a book told by chorus, featuring the voices of those who endured the Depression, and is embellished with black-and-white photos by such luminaries as Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, and Russell Lee. Eight chapters cover the causes of the Great Depression, schooling, work life, migrant work, the lives of children who rode the rails, entertainment, and the economic resurgence of the early '40s. Chapter notes and an excellent bibliography round out another superb photo-essay by a veteran author. A wonderful, informed, and sympathetic overview that perfectly complements Jerry Stanley's Children of the Dust Bowl (Random, 1992).-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA

[Page 165]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2006 June
When the stock market crashed on "Black Tuesday" in 1929, the United States spiraled into a major economic depression. Subsequently many families experienced emotional and financial upheaval when their primary breadwinners lost their jobs. Budget cuts forced many schools to operate on a shortened academic calendar or close entirely. Children and adolescents all over the country left school and entered the workforce because it offered their families a supplementary-if not the sole-source of income. Teenagers tried innovative ways to earn extra money during these tight times, such as dance marathons or tree sitting. Others opted to "ride the rails," hoping that the next destination would provide a job or at least a free meal Freedman, social biographer and author of such works as Immigrant Kids (Dutton, 1980) and Kids at Work (Clarion, 1994/VOYA December 2004), turns his attention to children and adolescents of the Great Depression. His newest addition to his large corpus of work does not disappoint. Freedman does an exemplary job of making a disheartening and complicated subject in American history approachable and engaging. This book is every reluctant reader and procrastinating student's dream come true-large text, wide margins, and many full-page archival photographs, including one of a nude child. The author makes excellent use of primary sources, quotations from oral history projects, and the aforementioned pictures and provides source notes. It is a fantastic resource for reports and casual reading.-Angelica Delgado Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. 5Q 3P M J Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.

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