From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6–Based on William Clark's account, this fictionalized story is told from the perspective of three Lakota boys who are first to sight the Corps of Discovery expedition's boats on the river. Although the youngsters' tribe has had contact with traders, there is no interpreter present, and misunderstandings arise since both sides have to rely on the limited translation skills of one of the Corp's boatmen. The visit is fraught with uneasiness, weapons are drawn, and violence seems imminent. The tension eases with the appearance of the large black dog, Seaman, and the friendliness of the expedition's lone African American, York. The Lakota are relieved to see the boats sail on, but feel frustrated and uneasy with the encounter. Cloud asks his father why the Americans were so angry, and the man wisely responds: Because we were in their way. Farnsworth's lovely oil paintings, executed in dusty browns and autumn hues, strongly support the text. The author succeeds in portraying the anxious discomfort of the confrontation, but her poignant message is shoehorned into the picture-book format and the overall effect is at times muddled and unengaging. This book would be most helpful as a thoughtful supplement to units on the Lewis and Clark expedition.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Gr. 2-4, younger for reading aloud. Sneve, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, offers a fictionalized account of a contentious encounter between Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery and a Lakota tribe. After three Lakota boys spot a boat approaching their camp, they swim out to meet the arrivals and discover that the travelers are not the French traders they're accustomed to; they are Americans who are unschooled in Lakota customs and have an unreliable translator. Over the following days, the negotiations between the Lakota and the explorers grow tense and even explosive, until a Lakota chief is barely able to prevent bloodshed. Sneve's narrative is long, and the slow pacing of the words sometimes feels at odds with the story's dramatic action, which is depicted in sweeping, feathery oil paintings. Still, Sneve tells a rare story from a Native American perspective that casts the famous expedition in an unflattering light and emphasizes how easily meaning can be lost in translation. A historical note and glossary of Lakota words are included. Suggest this for classroom application. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved