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Illustrated by Higgins Bond
Unlike others in the group, two key members did not choose to join the hazardous expedition. York, William Clark’s African American servant, was the only slave in the group. Sacajawea was considered to be the property of her husband, Charbonneau, the expedition’s translator, who had bought her after she had been kidnapped from her Shoshone tribe.
Sacajawea and York were essential to the success of the trip. Sacajawea’s knowledge of the land helped prevent the men from starving and enabled her to lead them to her tribal home, where they traded for horses. York’s superior skills as a hunter proved invaluable to the Corps.
This picture book focuses on the two slaves who accompanied Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. Sacajawea, a Shoshone girl who was owned by the French trader Charbonneau, and York, Clark’s slave, alternate in telling of the group’s adventure and accomplishments. At first this is confusing, but different fonts are used for each one to aid understanding. Each individual gives a personal perspective on the journey and comments on the contributions of the other. There is a minimum of text, but historical detail is included. More information is presented in a lengthy afterword, and the appended bibliography and list of Web sites are helpful for further research. A full-spread map of the route appears on the front and back endpapers. David Adler’s A Picture Book of Sacajawea (Holiday House, 2000) and Lise Erdrich’s Sacajawea (Carolrhoda, 2003) offer more thorough examinations for this age group, but it is difficult to find separate books about York. Though Bond’s dramatic, painterly illustrations show the terrain and give a sense of the difficulties the Corps faced, this volume is not a priority purchase.
–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read what Spokane journalist Sheri Boggs has to say about the book in The Inlander
Further Resources on the Web
The Lewis and Clark Trail
Discovering Lewis and Clark
Lewis and Clark on PBS
The National Park Service and the Lewis and Clark Trail
National Geographic studies Lewis and Clark
The Lemhi-Shoshone Tribes
Sierra Club: In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark
Library of Congress exhibit on Lewis and Clark