Friday, December 13, 2019

Someplace to Call Home

Dallas, Sandra. Someplace to Call Home
August 15th 2019 by Sleeping Bear Press
Public library copy

Hallie, Tom, and Benny Turner have left Oklahoma after the desertion of their father and the death of their sister and mother, and find themselves in Kansas with a broken down car. They are approached by Swede Carlson, who owns the land where they have stopped, and bargain with him to do work on his farm in exchange for being allowed to camp on his land. The Carlsons are doing surprisingly well in 1933, and have a soft spot for the children because their daughter Tessie has Down Syndrome, as does Benny. Tom manages to get work in a local garage a couple of days a week and helps out on the farm, while Hallie helps in the house and with Tessie, and arranges to go to school. The Carlsons let them live in a hired man's shack and help them out with food. Things are going well until local ne'er do well Harold Morton, whose dad owns the bank, starts to harass Tom, getting him fired for ostensibly stealing from him and eventually trying to frame him for a wrecked car. The Turners are hard workers and have shown the local people that even Okies can be honorable, so once the sheriff and Hallie prove Tom didn't wreck the car, things go better for the struggling family.
Strengths:The books that I like best about the Depression, Blue Willow (1940), Macaroni Boy (2003), Hitch (2005), Tough Times (2007), and All the Earth Thrown to the Sky (2011) won't last forever, so it's good to see some new titles about this era. The opening scenes with the children breaking down and looking for food pulled me right in, and the Carlson's helping them out was heart warming. The details about food, clothing, work, and general living arrangements were just what I want from historical fiction. This made for a very pleasant afternoon of reading.
Weaknesses: The whole story with Harold Morton was a bit simple and silly, and there was an episode where Benny was fighting with Tessie over "Ragman" that also seemed like it was written for second graders. Actually, both of these things reminded me a bit of Grace Livingston Hill novels, so perhaps they were in keeping with the era.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing for our Decades unit, and the story was intriguing in a Boxcar Children sort of way, especially the first few chapters. It's good for my students to see just how bad the Great Depression was!

Ms. Yingling

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