Set during the recovery portion of the Depression, Hitch does a great job of introducing the reader to work of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). President Franklin Roosevelt was known for his alphabet soup of government programs aimed at helping turn the American economy around and putting people to work. In this book, the main character Moss Trawnly is 17 and finds himself trying to find work to support his mother and siblings because his absentee father is too stubborn to “take a government handout” and work in the WPA.
This book is well-written and the action keeps moving throughout. My students have always enjoyed reading it as part of our Social Studies unit on the Depression, The Dust Bowl, and FDR. It touches on poor farming techniques the were part of the Dust Bowl, the social life of the characters shows how poor many were, and the CCC program Moss is in shows the intent of the government programs to help solve problems.
Although not written from a reformed perspective, the teacher can weave elements of despair, a persons character, and respect into their reading. This isn’t a popular book and I haven’t found any specific teaching guides for the book. It seems to be a hidden gem that we enjoy every few years.