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Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale by Laurie Myers

May 3, 2012

Children’s Book Review      Lexile Level 470

Lewis and Clark Children's BookThis book is a unique approach to the Lewis and Clark expedition. I think Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale would be a great tool for introducing young readers to this period in American history; specifically the Louisiana Purchase and the early explorers of the West. It may be especially effective for children who are dubious about studying history at all.

The narrative is written from Lewis’ dog’s point of view. The original journals of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and members of the expedition make mention of the Newfoundland dog, Seaman (long mistakenly transcribed as Scannon).

Laurie Myers has taken a fresh perspective on the expedition by excerpting Lewis’ journal mentions of Seaman and then writing a short narrative around specific instances during the 7000 mile trek. She succeeds in providing a light hearted, yet informative look at this historic event and the challenges the explorers experienced.

I can envision this book as a read aloud book, or as an outside assignment to augment a study on this topic. The book is written for elementary grades 3-5, but it could be read aloud to younger children.  With that in mind I have ‘flagged’ even minor points of concern (some cultural) for very young readers/listeners.

Flags:

  • Some elements of danger such as when a buffalo charges through the camp and just barely misses trampling the sleeping men’s heads.
  • Hunting scenes where Seaman retrieves quarry.
  • Seaman is severely bitten by a beaver, almost costing him his life. It is stated in very gentle language. “I think I was close to the end.”
  • Mention of how the “Indians” were intrigued by both York (Clark’s slave) and Seaman. “We were both black.”
  • The journals state that the Clatsop Indians frequently stole from the white men, calling them “thieves.”
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