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Into the Western Winds: Pioneer Boys Traveling the Overland Trails

June 2, 2011

Into the Western Winds: Pioneer Boys Traveling the Overland Trails

by Mary Barmeyer O’Brien

A children’s book review

I realize I haven’t posted any book reviews lately. It isn’t because I haven’t been reading. I find it harder to write reviews for books that are just so-so. I finally stumbled onto a book I could be enthusiastic about. Into the Western Winds is a great ‘boy-read’ of true life adventures that result in young men and boys digging deep to find courage and act responsibly in the face of adversity.

The book contains classic accounts of boy versus nature in retellings of first hand journal and diary entries.  Nine chapters represent the stories of nine boys ages 6 to 17 who traveled the pioneer trails heading west in the mid 1800’s. The chapters are short enough to keep younger kids engaged, but the content is riveting enough for teens because they are real life events faced by children who lived in an unequaled time in American history.

The trials faced include river crossings, desert crossings, a young man stranded alone in the mountains in winter, a teenager called upon to travel the trail alone to get life saving provisions for his family, hunting for food, encounters with Native Americans, the rigors (and monotony) of trail life, and physical hardship. In these stories, young men and boys learn what it means to be resourceful, strive for others’ good, and that self sacrifice is sometimes required to reach a difficult goal.

A companion book entitled Toward the Setting Sun: Pioneer Girls Traveling the Overland Trails promises to be just as good, and when I trade books with a fellow mom (of a daughter) I’ll let you know if it keeps its promise!


Honest accounts of the rigors of the trail including sickness, accidents, and death of travelers.

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