Title: How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis & Clark
Author: Rosalyn Schanzer
Major Themes: Lewis & Clark Expedition, American West
Synopsis: Using the words of Lewis and Clark to accompany beautiful, colorful paintings, Rosalyn Schanzer tells the story of the famous expedition.
A number of years ago, I found How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis & Clark in a list of discounted books at a place from which I was buying some schoolbooks. It looked like a good book, so I added it to the order, and when I saw how lovely it was, figured out a way to fit it in to the American history course I was going through with some of the children that year or the next. Now, I have read it as part of a history course again, this time with my 6-year-old daughter. I’m not sure how much of it she understood, but she liked the pictures!
Rosalyn Schanzer has used the actual writings of Lewis and Clark as much as possible. She has corrected the spelling and chosen the most interesting portions, but the words are theirs. To go along with the passages she chose to quote, she has painted absolutely beautiful pictures! The detail and colors are spectacular. This is a beautiful book, one that can be enjoyed over and over, with new things discovered each time.
The entire story of the famous exploration is told, though briefly. There are pictures of building the boats and loading them (the list of supplies is fun to read!). Then, we see the expedition taking off from St. Louis and heading up the Missouri River. Some of the Indian tribes they met are described, along with some interesting things that happened. After spending the winter with the Indians, the men took off again (my little girl was quite interested in the bear story). We enjoyed reading about the journey across the mountains, all the way to the sea.
How We Crossed the West is wonderful for those children who love to study detailed pictures, and for those who love true stories. I like it as part of a study of American history. Rosalyn Schanzer has brought the famous expedition to life here.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12