January 12, 1888 began as such a warm day that many children on the American prairie left for school without their hats, mittens, and sometimes even coats. That afternoon a massive blizzard bore down on the Midwest without warning. Many children were still in school and their teachers, often teenagers themselves, had to decide whether to chance losing their way home in the storm or risk freezing to death in a poorly insulated schoolhouses.
I picked this book up because I’m a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter. Although that book focuses on a dreadful winter eight years before the events of The Children’s Blizzard, both explore the challenges of a rough winter on the prairie in the days before reliable weather forecasts and gasoline powered snowplows. This books fills the reader in on the meteorological causes of blizzards and the history of weather forecasting alongside real life stories of survival. The Children’s Blizzard is worth picking up for anyone interested in extreme weather or the homesteading of the Great Plains.