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LEWIS AND PAPA by Barbara M. Joosse


Adventure on the Santa Fe Trail

by Barbara M. Joosse & illustrated by Jon Van Zyle

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8118-1959-0
Publisher: Chronicle

One snowy night, when a 19th-century traveler visits with the family who lives in a stone house on the Wisconsin River, he inspires them to make their fortune by bringing trade goods down the Santa Fe Trail. Lewis’s father leaves his wife and daughter to pack up a prairie schooner with goods--kegs of nails on the bottom, bolts of calico on top--and takes Lewis on the long journey to Santa Fe. Along the way, they encounter dust storms and grasshoppers, herds of buffalo and parched deserts. Lewis watches his father and the other men on the trail and learns what is required in the face of fear, and how crying can be manly, too. Richly textured paintings in the colors of the West fill the pages; Van Zyle uses tight close-ups of oxen and buffalo, panoramic views of stars and hills, and unusual angles (the circle of wagons is seen from above in one nighttime spread). The text is long for a picture book, and becomes sentimental; more gratifying are the historical details--map of the trail, notes, glossary, and an explanation of how the railroad running between Missouri to Santa Fe, completed in 1880, ended this mode of commerce. (Picture book. 7-10)