Newbery Project: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse



Beginning again,
I go to the gym for the first time in over a year.
Scared, I climb aboard the treadmill,
Ignoring the book in my bag,
Too frightened to do anything but
And grasp the sensors
And watch my heart rate rise and fall and rise and fall again.

Stealing a few more minutes,
I sit in the parking lot and open this book,
Filled with poetry
And a family
And dust that fell like snow.


Back at the gym again,
I walk and then I run.

Book in hand, I lose myself
In Oklahoma,
In Billie Jo’s America,
In dust.

I slow my pace,
Cooling down,
Tears welling up as I weep with the characters.


I read the last page as the timer counts down the final seconds.

Victory, I realize,
Takes many forms–
Over circumstances,
Over challenges,
Over defeats and over sadness.

And once again, a book has lifted me beyond my own limited world
To see the possibilities before me–
Hope beyond sadness,
Life beyond death,
Music after silence,
And spring despite the dust.

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal.

Related Links:

Out of the Dust webquest
Children of the Dust Bowl
Links to photos and video clips
Dust Bowl Days


  1. //

    Love this book!! I read it with my students every year. Great for our state history too!

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