Someplace to Call Home

Winner! Western Writers of America 2020 Spur Award -  Best Western Juvenile Fiction Category.
Tied for 1st Place! 2020 Women Writing the West Willa Award

In 1933, what’s left of the Turner family—twelve-year-old Hallie and her two brothers—finds itself driving the back roads of rural America. The children have been swept up into a new migratory way of life. America is facing two devastating crises: the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the country have lost jobs. In rural America it isn’t any better as crops suffer from the never-ending drought. Driven by severe economic hardship, thousands of people take to the road to seek whatever work they can find, often splintering fragile families in the process. As the Turner children move from town to town, searching for work and trying to cobble together the basic necessities of life, they are met with suspicion and hostility. They are viewed as outsiders in their own country. Will they ever find a place to call home? New York Times-bestselling author Sandra Dallas gives middle-grade readers a timely story of young people searching for a home and a better way of life.

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Interest Level Grade 3 - Grade 6
Reading Level Grade 4
Dewey FIC
Lexile 580L
ATOS Reading Level 3.8
Guided Reading Level T
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585364145), Paperback (9781585364152), PDF (9781534146211), Hosted ebook (9781534146556)
Copyright 2019
Number of Pages 240
Dimensions 5.5 x 8
  • 2021-2021 Texas Bluebonnet Master List, Short-listed, 2022
  • Western Writers of America Spur Award -  Best Western Juvenile Fiction Category., Winner, 2020
  • Women Writing the West Willa Award , Co-winner, 2020

School Library Connection - Someplace to Call Home

Readers who enjoyed Out of the Dust (Scholastic 1997) or Skylark (HarperCollins 1994) will be drawn to this story of resilience, fierce pride, and independence.

School Library Journal - Someplace to Call Home

Dallas crafts an authentic, character-driven story about the American past. As the Great Depression overwhelms the country and a “dust bowl” sweeps across the Great Plains, Tom, Hallie, and Benny Turner find themselves without mother or father. Unable to secure work, the children leave their home in Oklahoma and head toward California. When their Model T car breaks down in Kansas, they expect to stay only a few days, but a friendly farmer and his family soon persuade the children to remain permanently. For the first time in months, the Turners have hope. Tom has work, Hallie returns to school, and Benny has a friend to play with. But life is far from easy. Often called “Okies” and “squatters,” the children must contend with prejudice from many of the townspeople. However, when disaster strikes, the whole town miraculously offers the Turners a warm and helping hand. Despite the harshness of this time in history, Dallas’s focus on the children serves as a gentle introduction to the Great Depression. As in all good historical fiction, the dialogue and setting are accurate and natural. The plot is intentional and evenly paced; nothing is trite or modernized. The descriptions of Benny and his friend Tessie, who seem to be developmentally disabled, are carefully not anachronistic, though secondary characters do use insensitive language toward and about them. VERDICT This historical novel about the importance of family, belonging, and kindness will do well among young readers interested in the past.

Kirkus Reviews - Someplace to Call Home

The year 1933 is a rough time for three kids to be on their own, but the Turners prove themselves capable. The rest of their family has passed away or disappeared, and 12-year-old Hallie, 16-year-old Tom, and 6-year-old Benny are driving west looking for work when their car breaks down on the side of the road, beyond affordable repair. Luckily, the land where they camp is owned by the Carlsons, a nice farming family that understands both what it means to struggle and what it’s like to care for a child like Benny, since their daughter is similar. “His face wasn’t like other babies’ faces. As he grew older, he didn’t seem to learn as quickly as other children.” They make the orphans feel welcome as winter sets in. But will the rest of the community come to accept the Turners as more than squatters? It takes a near tragedy to find out. Dallas offers up her signature blend of compelling plot, vivid characters, and riveting history to both entertain and enlighten about a hard decade, though Benny, who evidently has Down syndrome, does come across as a plot device. Most main and secondary characters feel fully realized and three-dimensional, while the setting is drawn with delicate-but-vivid strokes and feels almost like its own character. This narrative is full of fascinating details about flour-sack dresses and bean sandwiches. Characters seem to default to white, with no mention of skin color. A story of the Great Depression that’s both gritty and gratifying.

Someplace to Call Home - Teaching Guide

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Author: Sandra Dallas

Sandra Dallas is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Quilt Walk and Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky. She has written ten nonfiction books and fourteen adult novels, including The Last Midwife, Prayers for Sale, The Diary of Mattie Spenser, and The Persian Pickle Club. A former Denver bureau chief for BusinessWeek magazine, she is the recipient of two National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Wrangler Awards, two Western Writers of America Spur Awards, and four Women Writing the West WILLA Awards. She lives in Denver. Visit her at

  • Broken Down
  • We’re Not Squatters
  • The Hired Man’s Cabin
  • Happy Days
  • School Days
  • Jimmy
  • The Offer
  • Supper Guests
  • Ragman
  • Christmas
  • Harold
  • More Trouble
  • Hallie's Discovery
  • Benny
  • Home
  • Glossary
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Author
Author/Illustrator biography
Glossary of key words