Books by Michael Schlissel

THE WAY WEST by Amelia Stewart Knight
Released: Oct. 22, 1993

With her husband and seven children, Knight traveled in 1853 from Iowa to the Oregon Territory. Her terse diary entries create a vivid picture of the journey's challenges (terrible weather, dangerous rivers, bad roads, privation, sickness, accidents) and of a strong pioneer spirit; at the end, the birth of Knight's eighth child near Oregon's Columbia River is the first mention of her pregnancy. In McCurdy's tinted scratchboard illustrations, the pioneers are seen from a low point of view, so that even children and livestock seem larger than life, looming with rugged nobility and solid purpose in a landscape of strong, simple lines—in sharp contrast to Thomas Allen's softened, more intimate scenes for Van Leeuwen's Going West or Mark Graham's romanticized paintings in Pryor's Lottie's Dream (both 1992). First Americans don't come off quite as well here; they beg for food or sell it, collect tolls at fords, and are generally friendly but unpredictable. Schlissel provides a brief introduction concerning the pioneer experience, but unfortunately doesn't discuss the extent of her adaptation. An effective tribute, as far as it goes, to a great enterprise; visually appealing, with historical interest but in need of the kind of careful explanation provided for Marion Russell's memoirs (p. 1079). (Nonfiction/Picture book. 7-10) Read full book review >