Greetings from the Great Bend Public Library! I hope everyone is staying warm out there! The good news is it looks like we have warmer days ahead to look forward to.
This record-breaking cold weather reminded me of a book that came out recently about a deadly blizzard that happened in the great plains back in 1888. The book focuses on some of the youngest casualties of the blizzard that left some five hundred dead, 100 of those casualties being school children.
The day started off so mildly many went to school without coats, but around the time children were being let out for the day disaster struck. Out of nowhere, a massive storm moved in leaving many stranded and unprepared. Reports say in some places temperatures dropped 18 degrees in 3 minutes and fluctuated as much as 100 degrees in 24 hours.
The story centers around two sisters who are young school teachers, both faced with life and death decisions. Keep the children in the schoolhouse where everyone is likely to freeze to death when fuel for the fires runs out, or let them walk home and hope they don’t lose their way in the blinding snow or freeze without adequate dress before they reach safety? Both sisters make a different choice and both lives are profoundly changed by their decision that day. The book is historical fiction but is written with real accounts from the day. If this book sounds interesting to you it’s called “The Children’s Blizzard” by Melanie Benjamin, and is available here at the library and as an audiobook on hoopla.
If you’d rather not read about frigid temperatures but like historical fiction like me, might I recommend one of my favorite books, by the same author, “Alice I Have Been.” The story follows Alice Liddell Hargreaves and her relationship with the man who would make her Alice in Wonderland.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson or, as you may know him, Lewis Carroll, met Alice when she was a young girl at Oxford where he was a professor and her father the dean. Dodgson was an amature photographer in his spare time at a time when cameras were large and clumsy and few knew how to operate them. He was often hired by the Liddell Family to photograph their young children, one of which happened to be young Alice. Dodgeson quickly became a favorite playmate of the Liddell children, because he would tell them wonderful imaginative stories, including the one about his precocious young friend Alice. As Alice grew into an adult and had children of her own, with war on the horizon she holds on to those dear memories and the fact that she is Alice. It’s a wonderful account of the real-life Alice in Wonderland blending fiction with historical fact. I would highly recommend this to any Alice in Wonderland fan.
Hannah Grippin is Outreach Manager at the Great Bend Public Library. Keep an eye on GBPL’s Facebook and its website, greatbendpl.info, for upcoming programs and updates. You can also message the staff on Facebook or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. GBPL can also be reached by calling 620-792-2409.