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How to Get Rich on the Oregon Trail Hardcover – February 10, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–7—Following in the footsteps of How to Get Rich in the California Gold Rush (National Geographic, 2008), Oregon Trail is the fictionalized account of an overland journey in 1852, recorded by budding writer 15-year-old William Reed, whose well-to-do family "follows the siren call of opportunity" by going west. Both an editor's note at the outset and an afterword stress the fact that there is not a "single scrap" of evidence that Reed or his family ever lived but that much of what he describes in his journal "precisely matches historical records." The entries, which follow the teen from Springfield, IL, to Portland, OR, describe his family tribulations, rampant disease along the trail, perilous river crossings, interactions with Native tribes, and the exploits of a corrupt wagon master. As the title suggests, finances are kept close track of with an antique-looking ledger sheet recording the family's income and expenses on each page as they earn and lose money by restocking lost or used supplies and plying their various trades (father is a doctor and brother Nathan is a blacksmith and entrepreneur). A list of further reading and online resources is accompanied by a two-page "Encyclopedia of the Oregon Trail" that defines terminology used within the text. Richly illustrated with a mix of historically authentic lithographs and "William Reed's" drawings, this book is a colorful and lively introduction to the time period.—Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The exemplary How to Get Rich in the California Gold Rush (2008) finds a worthy successor in this offering in the How to Get Rich series. This time the action follows young Will Reed and his family as they set off from Illinois to find their fortune along the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail. As with the previous volume, the action is humorously purported to be true, although the editors suggest viewing the story with “skeptical inquiry.” But informing Will’s impish sketches and wry journal entries is a wealth of information about life along the trail, including the construction of their “chariot,” the perilous river crossings, and threats from both cholera and the Indian attacks. An ongoing ledger calculates the family’s balance as it fluctuates from $10.70 to $3,021.70, but it’s clear that this journey is more about survival than riches. The illustrations, historical anecdotes, and run-ins with everyone from the Mormons to escaped slaves to Abraham Lincoln form a perfect blend of history and humbuggery. Grades 4-8. --Daniel Kraus

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1020L (What's this?)
  • Series: How to Get Rich
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426304129
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426304125
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Everyone was heading west to seek their fame and fortune. The adventurous Reed family decided they too would follow "the siren call of opportunity ever westward." The only one who wasn't crazy about the whole thing was William's mother, Eliza. She was a practical sort of person and figured they should just stay put like grandpa Silas. John, his father, was a physician and raring to go as was his brother Nathan, an apprentice blacksmith. His haughty and snotty looking sister Abigail, the "queen of the family," appeared to be in a snit and didn't count. On April 1, 1852, they were ready to travel two thousand miles to the Oregon Territory.

By hook and by crook they were going to make it across the continent (and they'd meet plenty of crooks like Stannard and his gang). They traveled by coach and by steamboat until they met up with "66 people and 14 wagons" and a few fools like the man who was going to drive 2,000 turkeys across seeking his fortune. They met up with cholera, Indians, price gouging scoundrels, their fortunes ebbed and waned but the family continued on their journey west. William almost drowned, helped a runaway slave and kept on writing and drawing. St. Joseph, Blue, Chimney Rock, Fort Laramie, Independence Rock, South Pass, Little Colorado Desert . . . they were well into their treacherous journey. William left a few teeth in that coach, but he didn't want to leave any family members on the trail (except maybe Abigail). Were they going to make it to Oregon?

This is a very amusing, but great travelogue of a young man and his family's quest for "fame & fortune" along the Oregon Trail. It was a laughing and learning experience that any reluctant learner would also appreciate.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By IIJuan12 on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This looked like a fun book, but I would not recommend it. It's a fictional account of a young man and his family as they head out West along the Oregon Trail. It covers many aspects of the journey and personalizes the information. The illustrations are great, though they didn't keep my 8 year old son's interest. (He loves reading, so I was actually surprised he wasn't interested in the book. He asked if we could stop reading it.) Despite all of this, I would not recommend this book. There are also numerous rude/disrespectful interchanges between the family members. It is full of revisionist history. The boy's sister starts wearing pantaloons after someone suggests it is a look for a "third sex" (a woman trying to look like a man). The mom is described as the boss of her husband. The author also helps one of the slaves (who was forced to accompany his master along the Oregon Trail) escape. I am not aware of the Oregon Trail getting used as a freedom trail for slaves who escaped. At this point we stopped reading the book.
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