Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Jessica Gunderson
Illustrator:  Steve Erwin , Keith Williams , Charles Barnett III 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 8 to 10
Capstone Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-0736864930

President Thomas Jefferson was a curious man. He was also aware of how good it would be for trade if a northwest passage could be found which connected the two oceans on either side of his great country. So, he decided to send his secretary and friend, Meriwether Lewis out on an expedition to explore the lands beyond the Mississippi River. He hoped that Lewis would be able to learn about these lands and perhaps find the hoped for passage. Lewis quickly set about putting together a group of twenty-one soldiers and twenty frontiersmen which he called the Corps of Discovery. He chose his friend and comrade, William Clark, to co-captain the group.

After many preparations the group left Fort Wood, near St. Louis, on May 14 of 1804. They launched their one boat and set off upstream. Going against the current was backbreaking and often the men had to pull the boat with ropes. After traveling for two months they met their first Native American tribesman. Many more encounters with different tribes followed and that first winter the Corps spent the winter near the camp of the Mandan tribe. It was here that Lewis and Clark met a French-Canadian trapper and his Native American wife. She was called Sacagawea and because she knew the language of the Shoshone she and her husband were invited to join the expedition.

In April of 1805 the journey due west began once more. Soon they were heading towards the mountains and it became clear that no waterway could possibly cross the high peaks. A Northwest Passage did not exist but the group was determined to see what lay to the west even if there was no river to take them there. Luckily the Shoshone were willing to help the travelers and they traded with them for horses which carried the men and their supplies up the mountains and to the other side. Ahead of them, due west, lay the Pacific Ocean.

This splendid book with its gripping text and its wonderful graphic artwork will give young readers an excellent introduction to one of the most fascinating expeditions ever made. Readers will ?meet? Sacagawea who language skills helped the Americans, and York, an African American whose courage and good sense made him an invaluable member of the group.