Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 1. April 1996. Page 5.
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Dandelions by Eve Bunting.
(Harcourt, 1995 ISBN 0-15-200050-X) Picture Book 32 pages. Picture Book. Grades 2+.
When a man moves his family from the comforts of Illinois to the uninhabited prairie, he knows there will be hardships. For this family, the children and father adapt quickly, but the pregnant mother is overwhelmed by the loneliness. Even when the soddy is built, she says it disappears when you step away from it. When the older daughter gets to go to town, she brings back a clump of dandelions to plant on the roof of their soddy. Like the people, the dandelions are not easily transplanted, but they take root. The illustrations in this touching book are washed in a yellow glow and fit the story perfectly.
Things to Notice and Talk About:
The book brings the prairie years into focus, of course, but it also can lead into such discussion topics as:
What are the various needs of the characters in this book? What other books talk about similar needs?
What makes a place home for you? What material things from your present home would you place near you in a new one to make it feel like home? Is it something you could have had in the time in which this book is set?
Imagine your family transported back in time to a dwelling like the one in Dandelions. Which members of your family would adapt best to the conditions there? What about yourself?
The dandelions may also represent caring and love for her mother on the part of the daughter. Have you ever used a flower or something equally simple to show the same? Has something similar ever been done for you?
In this story, the dandelions could be symbols of beauty found in simple, common things. Make a list of plants that can similarly bring a whole environment to mind the way that dandelions can evoke a meadow or a lawn or a cactus can recreate a desert.
Make a model or diorama of a sod house. You may even be able to use real sod for your building materials. If you can't, improvise.
When the plains were settled, many other people were unsettled. Take one area of the plains and find the names of the Native American people that were there then. What happened to those people?
Find a piece of music, a painting or a poem that could represent a feeling from Dandelions. Explain your choice.
Read a novel which is set in approximately that time and place and compare those characters and events to the ones in Dandelions.
Conrad, Pam. Prairie Visions (HarperCollins, 1991 ISBN 0 06 021375 2)
Rounds, Glen. Sod Houses on the Great Plains (Holiday, 1995 ISBN 0 8234 1162 1)
Rounds, Glen. The Treeless Plains (Holiday, 1992 ISBN 0 8234 1084 6)
Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk. The Sioux: A First American's Book. Illustrated by Ronald Himler. (Holiday, 1993 ISBN 0 8234 1017 X)
Turner, Ann. Dakota Dugout. Illustrated by Ronald Himler. (Simon & Schuster, 1989 ISBN 0 02 789700 1)
Conrad, Pam. Prairie Songs. (HarperCollins, 1985 ISBN 0 06 440206 1)
MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah Plain and Tall. (HarperCollins, 1985 ISBN 0 06 440205 3)
Turner, Ann. Grasshopper Summer. (Simon & Schuster, 1989 ISBN 0 02 789511 4)
Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie. (HarperCollins, 1953 ISBN 0 06 026445 4)
Related Internet Links for Dandelions
Caution: If you follow these links you will be leaving Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site and will need to use your "back" button to return.
The Sierra Club, Great North American Prairie Ecoregion
(URL: http://www.sierraclub.org/ecoregions/prairie.html )
Here is an overview of the Prairie today and its importance.
On our own site there are:
Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
(URL: http://www.carolhurst.com/titles/flyawayhome.html )
Another Featured Book also by Eve Bunting.
US History through Children's Literature
(URL: http://www.carolhurst.com/subjects/ushistory/ushistory.html )
A listing of the children's books, articles and professional books for the integrating of US History and Children's Literature.
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