Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SACAGAWEA by Emma Carlson Berne


Crossing the Continent with Lewis & Clark

From the Sterling Biographies series

by Emma Carlson Berne

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4027-6845-3
Publisher: Sterling

While the historical record is regrettably light on this Shoshone teenager, Berne stitches together a compelling narrative from what is known, taking care to bust myths along the way. Sacagawea had been kidnapped by the Hidatsa and sold or given to Toussaint Charbonneau as a wife before she was 14. Because she knew both the Shoshone and Hidatsa languages, she was seen as an invaluable link for communication to the Lewis and Clark expedition, which hired her French-Canadian trader husband. During the 16-month journey (1805-06), she acted as translator, located edible food and was a visible symbol of peace (no war party would have a woman), all the while carrying and nurturing her baby son, Jean-Baptiste. The author stresses the paucity of information even as she extrapolates what she can; Sacagawea's kindness and resourcefulness are evident from the Lewis and Clark records, for instance. Sidebars and illustrations enrich the account (about Native-American baby care, trade goods, Lewis’s Newfoundland dog, Seaman). Some repetition could have been edited out, but this is still a good addition to this biographical series. (glossary, bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 9-12)