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Seaman's Journal, On the Trail with Lewis and Clark Review by Donna Campos

Patricia Reeder Eubank
Ideals Children's Books
535 Metroplex Drive, Suite 250
Nashville, Tennessee 37211

A hardcover book with glossy, full color jacket, Seaman's Journal measures a large 9 " by 11 " inches in size and is a comfortable 34 pages in length. Inside the front cover a full color map of the Lewis and Clark route west from 1803-1805 is included, while the inside back cover includes the map of the return route taken in 1805-1806. The jacket cover includes a book description on the front flap and author information on the back flap, all in full color. The story is that of Seaman, the dog belonging to Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The book tells of the more than 8,000 mile adventure to the Pacific Ocean and back from the eyes of this loving and loyal Newfoundland dog. A wonderfully unique laminated cut out of Seaman, the dog, is ribbon tied to the book as a bookmark that can be placed in and out of each page spread of the book. Illustrations include animals and Indians and the entire story line is presented in dated segments. Ideal for children ages six to eight years old, it will be enjoyed by children of all ages.

Seaman's Journal is filled with beautiful representations of animals found along the journey route that are usually framed in natural branches making them easy to point out and discuss with children. As a book from an animal's point of view, it includes the obvious human traits of understanding and storytelling in Seaman, the dog, which may be disagreeable for some families. Indian tribes are glimpsed in the reading with details of their diet, behavior, and items traded between the expedition members and the Indians. Background illustrations throughout provide examples of tribal housing and beautiful scenery. Maps are often set in the background of the illustrations providing general details of the area being traveled at that point in the book. In a relatively short book of 34 pages the author captures the story of an incredibly long trip, including snippets of information that include just enough to interest young readers and listeners without overwhelming them. The included maps provide opportunity to increase map skills and further the understanding of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Excellent illustrations and a lovable story will keep children interested and curious about this part of history as they listen to Seaman's Journal. The maps and "portraits" offer glimpses of information and opportunity for further research for older readers. The story includes information about the items packed for the trip, products commonly traded, Indian legends, and some of the people of the journey, like Sacajawea, Chief Cameahwait, Old Toby, and the instructions of President Jefferson. A recipe for Sacajawea's Pemmican is included at the end of the book. We thoroughly enjoyed this book and will continue to use it as our children study the Lewis and Clark expeditions. It is a wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated addition to any library and will be enjoyed by all ages. Many Indian tribes are mentioned and will spark interest and further research about each, providing a wonderful opportunity to increase knowledge of the many tribes of American Indians. An entire unit study of Lewis and Clark could be built around this single book, artwork could be crafted after the illustrations, and writing encouragement can be found as children imagine what their pets might think of their daily lives if God had given them the ability to keep a journal. This is an imaginative story that captures a child's love of the ever loyal family dog and mingles it with a fantastic part of American history. Families will enjoy Seaman's Journal again and again as they curl up together for bedtime reading or around a table of home school supplies. Seaman's Journal, On the Trail with Lewis and Clark will be thoroughly enjoyed as a fictional work that builds interest in American history for young children in an incredibly creative style.

Product Review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2009