Saturday 13 April 2013

Sacagawea (Brave explorers every child should know)- a review

The history of the exploration of the United States is something about which I know little, and have taught my children even less, so having the opportunity to review a book about this from Knowledge Quest was welcome.

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Middle Son aged 12 and I both read the e-book, Sacagawea (Brave explorers every child should know) by Karla Akin. This is described as an "interactive historical novel."

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This book is a fictionalised re-telling of the story of the Indian woman, Sacagawea, who is famous for interpreting for the Lewis and Clark or Corps of Discovery expedition who explored the route through the central states (the Louisiana purchase) and onto the Pacific Ocean. Particularly useful for those, like us, who have little background knowledge of this history are the links which explain further details and give pictures of relevant places. The text also contains an annotated map of the journey with position of the expedition at certain important dates.

Sacagawea comes across as a courageous, and to use words that she says in the book, "equal" member of the Corps. The book tells of her forcible removal from her own tribe, the Shoshone, and slavery in the Hidatsa tribe and her bigamous arranged marriage to the French trader Charbonneau as well as the long and dangerous expedition.

Her relationship with various members of the crew is worthy of discussion: devotion to her baby and the dog, an uneasy perhaps even slightly contemptuous relationship with Charbonneau, her husband and the  close friendship with "Man-with-red-hair", Clark.

By the end of the book, we were more acquainted with an epic journey in US history.

What did we think of the book?

Middle Son didn't particularly enjoy the book. He stated afterwards that he prefers a straight factual book to historical fiction.

I found that the book got off to a fairly slow start but then became fascinated by how this Indian girl managed this amazing voyage with her very young child. Details of native American legend and belief have been woven into the story which were new to me.

Having had a medical training, some of the details of illness were fascinating. I was particularly interested in Sacagwea's use of buffalo fat to protect against mosquito bites.

This book is suitable for children from about age 10. In my opinion, it would be enjoyed by children who like historical fiction.
Sacagawea  is available as a kindle download for $4.92.


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