Turner (Shaker Hearts, 1997, etc.) offers a splendid tale of the pioneering spirit. Traveling west from Kentucky to Oregon in the 1800s, three children keep a journal of their thoughts, feelings, and events along the way. These poetic passages capture in two or three paragraphs the hardship, fears, joys, adventures, and sorrows of the journey. Amanda, the oldest, teeters on the edge of adulthood, and wishes for ""a land where I could run and shout with no one to tell me I was not a lady."" Lonnie dreams of ""soil as deep as a man is tall,"" and a place to plant his peach orchard. Caleb, the youngest, is so fired up with fear that he thinks he looks like a peddler with charms around his neck to ward off evil: ""rabbit's foot for water, snakeskin for woods, and a dead man's fingernail to keep off the horse-stealing, ma-hurting wild men."" Along the way a baby is born, their dog dies, they find an orphan, buy an abused horse, and nearly lose a child to cholera. They come at last to the place of their new beginning. The vivid writing is ideal for savoring at story hours; the appealing illustrations--sometimes intrusively literal, more often a poetic match to the text--would work well in a group setting.