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Drylongso /

As a great wall of dust moves across their drought-stricken farm, a family's distress is relieved by a young man called Drylongso, who literally blows into their lives with the storm. Full description

Main Author:
Other Authors: Pinkney, Jerry,
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992
Edition: First edition.
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This absorbing story about three children of Scottish and French origin who become lost on the Rice Lake Plains in the late eighteenth century provides the author with an opportunity to contemplate important themes of Canadian literature and identity.

Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5, younger for reading aloud. In an understated story of drought and hard times and longing for rain, a great writer and a great artist have pared down their rich, exuberant styles to something quieter but no less intense. Drylongso is a tall boy in overalls and cap who comes to the house of a small girl named Lindy one day in 1975 during a great dust storm. Her mother and father take him in. After the storm, he gives them seeds to plant; with a dowsing rod, he helps them find water; they prepare and plant the land; and then he leaves. The characters are vital and lovingly individualized, set against a landscape washed in thick drifts of pale red dust. Pinkney's paintings in watercolor, pastel, and pencil have a flowing softness, like snow. With Lindy and her parents we feel the long, unbroken stillness and heat; then the drama of the storm, like a high brown wall moving toward them in a rusty, choking haze; then the arrival of the stranger, the planting, and the hope of renewal. Kids will get the eloquent environmental message ("Folks had overused the land. Made it rise up") and the warning of drought to come. As always with Hamilton, her scholarly note is as fascinating as the story: she explains that drylongso originally meant drought-so-long and eventually came to mean anything commonplace. Her words are plain, but she makes Drylongso a folk hero, both ordinary and mysterious, and reveals the mythic in the everyday. ~--Hazel Rochman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Endowing her eponymous protagonist with the mystical qualities of a folk hero and the wry wit of a boy, Newbery Medalist Hamilton has created a provocative tale with both spiritual and environmental allusions. Lindy and her parents rescue a tall, skinny ``stick-fella'' from a sudden dust storm. Named Drylongso for the periods of drought that ``lasted so long, folks thought it was just ordinary. Dry so long, it was common, like everyday,'' the strange boy brings with him the promise of new life--water. The adults cautiously accept his peculiar nature--his mysterious arrival, his unknown origins, his aphoristic, at times prophetic, statements on growth and life. In contrast, Lindy, who provides the tale with a measure of comic relief, bombards the boy with her curiosity; Drylongso's jokey affection for Lindy saves the story from cloying sentimentality. Pinkney's atmospheric watercolors highlight the strong familial bond central to the story; his characters and landscape superbly vivify Hamilton's barren clime. An afterword offers both a historical account of U.S. drought cycles and a cultural context for this intriguing central character. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-- On their farm west of the Mississippi River, Lindy and her father put tomato plants into the dry ground. It is the 1970s, and the 20-year cycle of drought is upon them, covering everything in dust and threatening destruction. As they work, Lindy sees the ``wall-a-cloud'' of a dust storm and a ``stick figure'' running in front of it. The ``stick figure'' is Drylongso, a boy whose name comes from the Gullah expression signifying drought. Wherever he goes, he promises, ``life will grow better.'' The family takes him in and with seeds he has brought, they work together, replant, and find an underground spring. For Lindy, the mysterious boy is a brother who enriches her life with his stories and actions, leaving her with hope for the future. As in many of her other works of fiction, Hamilton combines myth and realism to create a poignant, powerful tale. Although believable as a child, Lindy is complex and wise, and there is great depth in the portrayal of her relationship with Drylongso. His story and his brief sojourn with Lindy's family has much to tell readers about families, nature, the environment, and life. Along with the insights, there is humor in the form of puns, jokes, and stories. Written in modified dialect, the language is vivid and poetic; however, the dialogue is a bit self-conscious at times, with clever turns of phrase that interrupt the flow and call attention to themselves. Pinkney's illustrations are exquisite, expressive, and perfectly in tune with the tone and spirit of the text. Despite the occasional seams, this is a fine book. --Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Virginia Hamilton was born March 12, 1934. She received a scholarship to Antioch College, and then transferred to the Ohio State University in Columbus, where she majored in literature and creative writing. She also studied fiction writing at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Her first children's book, Zeely, was published in 1967 and won the Nancy Bloch Award. During her lifetime, she wrote over 40 books including The People Could Fly, The Planet of Junior Brown, Bluish, Cousins, the Dies Drear Chronicles, Time Pieces, Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl, and Wee Winnie Witch's Skinny. She was the first African American woman to win the Newbery Award, for M. C. Higgins, the Great. She has won numerous awards including three Newbery Honors, three Coretta Scott King Awards, an Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She was also the first children's author to receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1995.

She died from breast cancer on February 19, 2002 at the age of 67.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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