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We Were There with Lewis and Clark

By James Munves
American Home School Publishing

PO Box 570
Cameron, MO 64429

We Were There with Lewis and Clark is the story of 13-year-old Tom Hendon, who is living with French fur traders in St. Louis in 1804. Tom's mother has died, and his father, a trapper, has been missing for two years. Though Jim Hendon is presumed dead by nearly everyone, his optimistic son Tom is encouraged by Daniel Boone to join up with Lewis and Clark's expedition as a means of searching for his father.

This historical fiction book, written for grades 4-9, provides a vehicle for learning more about Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery. The first of the fifteen chapters implies that Daniel Boone was very familiar with Lewis and Clark's whereabouts. They lived during the same time period, but there is no historical evidence of Boone ever meeting the explorers.

Although the book doesn't delve too deep, many key people and elements of the expedition are included. York, Drouillard, Sacagawea, and Charbonneau are all present. So is Scammon (also called Seaman by some sources). Difficulties with the river, mosquitoes, and wildlife are covered. This book would be a good means of introducing a study of Lewis and Clark, but parents will want to use other sources to fill in the whole picture. For example, there isn't much discussion of the many reasons for the expedition or the preparation work involved.

Before I read a book personally and especially with my children, I read the author's background information to glean as much knowledge as possible. Sadly, no author bio is included in this edition, which was reprinted in 2006 by the publisher. The book was originally copyrighted in 1959.

In the 126 pages, there is one black-and-white illustration. Having only one almost makes the lack of illustrations more pointed. Although the book is not difficult to understand, I think more illustrations would make it more appealing to those on the younger side of the intended age bracket. A map of Lewis and Clark's route would be a helpful addition. So would a glossary of terms, or at least some definitive footnotes.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, January 2008

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