July 17, 2011

The face of poverty in America changed with a single click of a camera...

Don Nardo. Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression. Compass Point Books. 2011.

It is March 1936 and America is in the grips of The Great Depression. Dorothea Lange, a professional photographer for the Farm Security Administration, takes six photos in ten minutes that forever change the face of poverty in this country. As a result, her subject, Florence Owens Thompson, will forever be known as Migrant Mother.

This snapshot of history is an engaging way to interest the youth in one of America's most  economically trying times. It includes a plethora of information in its sixty-six pages. Background information on the Depression, the Dust Bowl, Lange herself, and Thompson are all a part of what makes this a strong historical addition to juvenile literature. The book includes the six photos of Thompson (one never previously published) as well as several other beautiful photographs that truly capture the truth of the time.

The power and relevance of this piece is the story behind the story. Nardo reveals interesting tidbits of several of the photos taken to document The Depression, including Thompson's feelings of being known and seen as the face of poverty.

The author's repetitive writing style will appeal to young readers, and the photos can be used in a variety of classrooms - English, history, art, etc. - at a variety of levels. The photographs alone make this book worthy of one's time, and the historical information enhances the book as a whole.

I recommend this book to all lovers of photography, historical juvenile literature, history/English/art teachers, students conducting research or wanting to read and learn more about The Great Depression.

The author, Don Nardo, is a historical writer who covers a wide-range of historical topics. For a list of his other writings, click here.

This copy for review was provided by NetGalley - a thousand thank yous to them.

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