More on Dust, by Arthur Slade.
I read a set of 10 texts for an assignment for my middle years ELA course this term. My focus was on immigration, and one of the books I picked was called Andrei and the Snow Walker (which I will write about another day). I was checking out a review in CM Magazine and the author suggested that the book Dust was a much better read if you wanted to read a good book about life on the prairies.
I don't agree at all. Each has a completely different focus -- I wouldn't compare the two in terms of prairie life of the past -- although each have elements of magic interspersed with historical fiction. The book has excellent descriptions of prairie life in the depression. If you like your historical stories spiced up with the unbelievable and magical, you'll enjoy Dust. It's set in the dust bowl of 1930s Saskatchewan; it has an evil villain who has obvious links with the devil; people are captivated by a belief that everything will get better if they follow a mesmerizing peron's bidding; a boy is kidnapped; another boy, his older brother is pivotal to the rescue of the entire town (spoiler alert... oops).
I want to project something onto this story -- why else would the author mix historical realism with magical fantasy? Maybe there's a link with the prairie prophets of the 1920s and 1930s -- William Aberhardt, the Baptist preacher who lead the Social Credit party, might be some short of opposite model for the man who tried to convince the entire town to follow his particular vision. I'm not sure of the reasons for mixing the two -- creativity? A way to show how two styles can work together? I don't know if I'm fond of this particular method, but I did find the descriptions of life in Depression-era prairies very well written. The main character, a boy named Robert, is smart and wise, and you want him to solve the mystery of the missing younger brother.
by Brigitte (mom)