Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas
by Ben Sowards
It’s Christmas Eve when a knock comes at the door of Paul’s family farmhouse. A small family is stranded due to a broken-down truck and seeks shelter for the evening. Paul’s grandfather not only welcomes them in, but offers them dinner and a bed for the night. Even though it is a season of giving, Paul’s heart is not filled with charity. It’s the height of the Dust Bowl and food is scarce. Why should he share what little he has with strangers? Worse, in order to help the sick baby, Paul will have to sell his beloved calf to buy a part to fix the truck.
Angry, he retreats to the barn, where he sleeps and dreams of faraway Bethlehem. In his dream, he visits Mary and Joseph, and their newborn son, Jesus. The family offers Paul food and shelter and warmth—extending to him the love and charity he lacks and teaching him of the true meaning of Christmas.
I absolutely loved this story. I’ve read a lot of books that are set during the depression. I think those that had it worst were definitely those in the dust bowl. If you were in the city, at least you could get to a bread line. I just cannot imagine how horrific this was. And if you were a child during that time….how horrible. This book centers around a little boy growing up during this time. His family has nothing except his calf. When a helpless family comes needing help for their child, Paul learns about true love and sacrifice. This is a wonderful book for your children. I’d recommend it for a little bit older ones. It would be difficult for a preschool child to grasp the concept, but they would love the pictures. This is illustrated so beautifully. I definitely recommend it!
Author & Illustrator Ben Sowards
Ben Sowards is the illustrator of many well-loved picture books, including A Christmas Dress for Ellen, Seven Miracles that Saved America, and Christmas Oranges.
Ben Sowards teaches others to paint both traditionally and digitally at Southern Utah University, where has directed the illustration program since 2001.