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My Name Is America: The Journal Of Douglas Allen Deeds, Donner Party Expedition, 1846 Hardcover – November 1, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-"Today I embark on a great journey." This initial, optimistic entry in a 15-year-old orphan's journal exemplifies the Donner Party's hopes for a new and better life in California. Although he knows that James Reed and George Donner lack experience in such an endeavor as a trek west, Deeds believes in the men. He describes the many difficulties encountered on the journey, including river crossings, poor roads, and fear of Native Americans. Little by little, the hardships increase-members of the group die from illness or injury, and the number of wagons dwindles. The decision to use the Hasting "shortcut" proves deadly. Trapped in the snow and facing starvation, the Donner Party is transformed from a group of cooperative and generous people into one plagued by suspicion and selfishness, resorting even to cannibalism (no graphic details). In the epilogue, readers are told that Deeds and his friend Edward Breen were among the first to discover gold in California. Using actual events and characters, this fictional journal brings a tragic story to life, showing the changes in people brought about by incredible hardships. A selection of archival photographs is included.

Lana Miles, Duchesne Academy, Houston, TX

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-7. Using the diary format the My Name Is America series is known for, Philbrick recreates the events of the ill-fated Donner party through the eyes of Douglas Deeds, a 15-year-old orphan. Deeds recounts the jockeying for power between greenhorn organizers George Donner and James Reed; the leaders' dogmatic reliance on a poorly researched travel guide; and the series of bad decisions that culminated in the group's being stranded without food for the winter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Philbrick shows the action rather than merely telling about it, but he deals discreetly with the issue of cannibalism, sending Douglas off crying into the forest as the others prepare to "take advantage of what has been provided." What has taken place will still be clear to most readers. This is historical fiction that will spark discussions about both ethics and leadership. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 920L (What's this?)
  • Series: My Name Is America
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; 1st edition (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439216001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439216005
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rodman Philbrick grew up on the New England coast, where he worked as a longshoreman and boat builder. For many years he wrote mysteries and detective novels for adults. Inspired by the life of a boy who lived a few blocks away, he wrote 'Freak The Mighty', the award-winning young-adult novel, which has been translated into numerous languages and is now read in schools throughout the world. The book was adapted to the screen as 'The Mighty', starring Sharon Stone, Gillian Anderson, James Gandolfini, Kieran Culkin, and Elden Henson, with original music provided by Sting.

Rodman Philbrick's novels for young readers include 'The Fire Pony', 'Max the Mighty', 'REM World', 'The Last Book In The Universe', 'The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds', 'The Young Man And The Sea', and 'The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg', a 2010 Newbery Honor book.

The Private Eye Writers of America nominated two of his T.D.Stash series as best detective novel, and then selected Philbrick's 'Brothers & Sinners' as Best Novel in 1993. A gothic tale of slavery and sea captains, 'Coffins' was published in 2002. Writing under the pen name 'William R. Dantz' he has explored the near-future worlds of genetic engineering and hi-tech brain control in books like 'Hunger', 'Pulse', 'The Seventh Sleeper', and 'Nine Levels Down'. He has published three thrillers under the pen name Chris Jordan - 'Taken', Trapped', and 'Torn' - featuring Randall Shane, a former FBI Special Agent who specializes in recovering lost children. He's just now undertaken a new Chris Jordan series about the very private investigator Naomi Nash, set in Boston. The first volume, 'Measure of Darkness', will be published in December 2011 by Mira Books.

Rod and his wife Lynn Harnett, who have collaborated on a number of series for young readers, including 'The House on Cherry Street' and 'The Werewolf Chronicles', divide their time between Maine and the Florida Keys.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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70%
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See all 10 customer reviews
Douglas expects the journey to be quick and easy.
hiphopgirl_1000
"The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds : The Donner Party Expedition, 1846" is the best "My Name Is America" book that I have read so far.
MAB
And they are following the advice in a book written by Mr. Lansford Hastings.
KidsReads

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By hiphopgirl_1000 on October 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In 1848 newly orphaned Douglas with just $100 dollars with him decides to leave Missouri and join the Donner Party on their expedition to California. Douglas expects the journey to be quick and easy. He expects them to definetly get there by the first snow fall. Little does he imagine the disastrous journey ahead. Neither can he imagine the horrors he will see. Leaders decide to take the unknown Hastings drive in order to shorten the journey. However the unexplored Hasting drive is totally different then expected. Long periods of time in deserts with no water and animals dying totally paralizes the party. However nothing will prepare them for the bitter freezing cold Seirra Neveda as the first snowfall comes. This is a powerful journal and all fans should like this book!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on July 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In May 1846, a large wagon train of settlers left Independence, Missouri, heading West. Many Easterners were on the trails at that time, looking for land, business opportunities, and better lives. They traveled across the country in wagon trains to California and Oregon. But the people who headed for California on May 12, 1846, under the leadership of George Donner, did not arrive at their destination safely. Instead, they headed into history.
To readers, the name "The Donner Party" = cannibals. Beset with bad leadership, bad luck, bad timing, and bad decisions, the tragic Donner Party suffered unbelievable hardships. Trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during a bitter winter, only 60 miles from their destination, the survivors began eating the bodies of those who had died.
THE JOURNAL OF DOUGLAS ALLEN DEEDS tells the story of The Donner Party through the eyes of a boy. Douglas is a 15-year-old orphan moving West to build a life for himself and become somebody. All he has is his horse. Without a wagon or any money to buy one, Douglas is grateful that Mr. Donner lets him hitch his dreams to the wagon train. He can shoot well, and he shares whatever. He becomes good friends with Edward Breen, whose generous family takes him in and makes him feel loved and needed. Douglas and Edward share their plans for making their fortunes when they get to California.
But the settlers don't make good time. They travel only a few miles a day. Months go by, during which other wagon trains arrive at their destinations, but The Donner Party just keeps slogging along the trail. All of them are greenhorns, even the leaders. And they are following the advice in a book written by Mr. Lansford Hastings. Everybody on the wagon train believes Mr. Hastings' book as if it were the Bible.
Read more ›
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In the spring of 1848, newly orphaned after the death of his father and with only a horse and one hundred dollars to his name, fifteen-year-old Douglas decides to leave Missouri and head west to the paradise of California. He joins the Donner wagon train and expects to complete the journey in just a few months, and to be settled down in his new home by the first snowfall. Little does he imagine the disastrous journey and ghastly horrors that lay ahead. The men of the wagon train insist on following the unknown Hastings shortcut, believing it will shorten the journey by a month. They never expected to encounter scorching hot deserts and long stretches with no water. They never expected that their food would run out, that their animals would be stolen. But most of all, they never expected to be stranded by the first snowfall in the bitter cold Sierra Nevada Mountains. Making camp by a frozen lake they come to call Starvation Lake, the survivors can do nothing but wait for what may come, be it rescue - or death. Through it all, Douglas chronicles his experiences in his journal. I recommend this book to all readers who enjoyed the previous My Name is America books.
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By Jonica Williams on October 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written. Good inside point of view. Learned a lot. My 11 year old son read this book and so did myself and my husband. We all enjoyed it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MAB on August 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds : The Donner Party Expedition, 1846" is the best "My Name Is America" book that I have read so far. Giving just the right amount of details, Philbrick was able to show the horrors the emigrants suffered, while trying to make a new life in California. I read this book after "Against All Odds: The Lucy Scott Mitchum Story" which always referred to what happened to The Donner Party. Having not knowing what happened exactly, this book helped me understand why they were so scared. The historical note at the end was very, very interesting, but not for readers with weak stomachs (it doesn't go into great detail, but could let your imagination go wild.). I most definitely recommend.
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