Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

How we crossed the west: The adventures of Lewis and Clark

How we crossed the west: The adventures of Lewis and Clark

Rosalyn Schanzer
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
National Geographic Children's Books, 1997   ISBN: 978-0792237389

President Thomas Jefferson was a curious man, a man who wanted to know what lay in the lands far away from his home in Virginia. And so he asked his private secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, to "explore those western rivers which may run all the way across North America to the western ocean" and to study the native peoples, animals, and plants that he saw along the way. Meriwether asked his friend William Clark to join him on this adventure, and William was pleased to accept the invitation. And so boats were built, stores were bought, and William and Meriwether set about the business of choosing the men who would join their "Corps of Discovery."

On May 14th, 1804 in Camp Wood near St. Louis the Corps set off up the Missouri River. As they traveled they saw many wild animals that no one had seen before, and they also made contact with several Native American tribes. Most of the encounters were friendly but there were some that did not go so well.

In November of 1804 the Corps set about building winter quarters for themselves on the bank of the Missouri. It was here, in their Fort Mandan, that William and Meriwether first met a French guide and his native wife, Sacagawea.

Using the words of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and John Ordway, Rosalyn Schanzer tells the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition in a way that truly brings the account to life. Readers will feel as if they are accompanying the intrepid explorers, and they will come to appreciate how hard the journey was. The words of the three men are broken up by numerous illustrations that are rendered in a style that is reminiscent of the pictures created by "American folk artists of the period."

Notes at the back of the book describe what the journey home was like for the Corps of Discovery, what the travelers accomplished during their trip, and how Rosalyn Schanzer created the book.

This picture book will serve as a splendid introduction to the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition.