HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Red-Dirt Jessie
Author: Anna Myers
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, republished 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0802781727 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0802781721 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1492866619 Paperback
ISBN-10: 149286661X Paperback
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: ***** 5 star
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Myers, Anna. Red-Dirt Jessie (Published in 1992 by Walker Children’s, a division of Walker Publishing Company Inc.; republished in 1997 by Weekly Reader Corporation Books, a division of Newfield Publications Inc., 4343 Equity Dr., Columbus, OH 43228). It is a hot July in 1929, during the Great Depression, and twelve year old Jessie lives on a farm in the Oklahoma dust bowl with her papa Hobert, her mama Maud, and her six year old younger brother H.J. (named after Papa), not far from Papa’s sister Aunt Maybell and her husband Uncle Delbert. After Jessie’s little sister Patsy dies of “the fever,” the father sinks into a severe depression where all he does is sit around the whole day in a rocking chair. Then the aunt and uncle leave their farm to seek their fortune in California leaving behind their nearly wild dog named Ring. Jessie is determined to cure her father’s depression and tries to make Ring a pet with the hope that the two of them together can coax her father out of his rocking chair.
Unfortunately, Ring is shot by a neighboring farmer, and Jessie’s mother becomes ill under the stress of trying to keep the family together. On top of that, coyotes start stealing their chickens. Will Ring survive? What happens to Papa? Is there still anything that the dog can do to help Jessie bring her father back? This is well-written story makes one feel the waves of heat in late summer countryside along with the hard work and isolation on the farm. All the characters come to life. Jessie’s feelings and hurt seem so real, but there is also humor, and this good historical fiction has excitement that leads to a cliff-hanger climax. It is recommended for any youngster who loves dogs. Also, it helps to explain the nature of depression but has a hopeful, happy ending.