John wasn’t excited about the move like his parents were. When the government offered United States citizens land for free if they moved west and farmed it for five years, it was like a dream come true for his parents. Not so much for John. He was a city boy, born and raised in Chicago. What did he know about the prairie? Nothing.
And it turns out to be pretty crazy. Storms come up out of no where, they have to live in a sod house – yes, a house made out of mud and grass! The snow got so deep their first winter, John’s dad had to make a tunnel through it just to get to the barn to take care of the animals! It’s super hot in the summer and super cold in the winter. John had to leave all of his city friends behind and he struggles to make new ones in this upside down land.
But just as John is starting to get used to this crazy place he is living in, something comes up that even the people who have lived there for years didn’t expect and it tears through the community!
I Survived the Children’s Blizzard, 1888 by Lauren Tarshis gives you a feeling of what it was like for those earlier settlers out in the Dakota Territory trying to make a living on land that was incredibly hostile. It also tells the story of a true event that shocked the nation with the brutality of the blizzard and why so many children died during the storm.
Recommended for grades 6 and up.