‘The Children’s Blizzard’ Author Melanie Benjamin’s Virtual One Book Tour Dates Announced

Tour Kicks Off July 27

In the 2021 One Book South Dakota selection, The Children's Blizzard, author Melanie Benjamin offers a fictionalized take on the notorious storm that swept through Dakota Territory in January 1888. This summer and fall, she will discuss her novel and swap severe weather stories with readers across the state.

Several organizations will host Benjamin on her virtual One Book South Dakota Author Tour for The Children's Blizzard. During each event, she will discuss her work and answer reader questions in a conversation with an assigned moderator and local participants.

The novel, based on oral histories, is a gripping tale of survival amidst and after the storm. On January 12, 1888, a mild day in Dakota Territory turned into a deadly blizzard. Because students had gone to school without their heavy coats, many young schoolteachers were faced with a life and death decision: allow the children to start for home and risk freezing to death, or keep them in the schoolhouse and risk being trapped without sufficient fuel?

Benjamin tells the fictional stories of sisters Raina and Gerda Olsen, schoolteachers in southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska who make very different decisions on that fateful day. In the process, she also touches on issues ranging from historical weather forecasting to homestead boosterism by railroads and newspapers.

To culminate her year as One Book South Dakota Author, Benjamin will deliver a keynote address at the 2021 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood, Oct. 1-3.

The Children's Blizzard discussions and author visits fulfill the South Dakota Humanities Council's mission to "celebrate literature, promote civil conversation, and tell the stories that define our state."

Watch sdhumanities.org and sdbookfestival.com for details.


Tuesday, July 27

Saturday, July 31

Tuesday, Aug.3

Thursday, Aug. 5

  • Rapid City, 12 p.m. MT

For session access information, contact the local coordinator.

About Melanie Benjamin

Benjamin is the author of many New York Times and USA Today bestselling historical novels, including "The Swans of Fifth Avenue," about Truman Capote and his society swans; "The Aviator's Wife," about Anne Morrow Lindbergh; and "Mistress of the Ritz," about an American woman who ran the Ritz during World War II, catering to Nazi occupiers by day while working for the Resistance by night.

A Midwest native, Benjamin grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she found her first love, theater. After raising her two sons, she wrote parenting columns, short stories and two contemporary novels under her real name, Melanie Hauser, before turning to historical fiction.

Benjamin lives on the East Coast with her husband. In addition to writing, she puts her theatrical training to good use by frequently appearing at literary events around the country. When she isn't writing or speaking, she's reading. And always looking for new stories to tell.

Learn More

The South Dakota Humanities Council coordinates the One Book South Dakota program as well as the South Dakota Festival of Books and the Speakers Bureau programs. To learn more about these and other programs, please subscribe to our e-newsletter below.