From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–This amazing work presents the exciting adventure of the Lewis and Clark expedition through the eyes of its participants. Using poetic form, Wolf tells the story in alternating narratives by a dozen of the human participants and Seaman, the Newfoundland dog belonging to Meriwether Lewis. The dog, called Oolum here, supposedly his private name, serves as the omniscient narrator. His prose entries provide a running description of and commentary on the events. Factual details abound, reflecting the intense research on which the book is based. But Wolf has managed to give intriguing, well-developed personalities to the Corps of Discovery members who tell this tale. The disparate group included educated men, adventurers, traders, a captured teenage Shoshone girl, and a slave belonging to William Clark. Talk of freedom from different points of view is enlightening as is Clark's rationalization for slavery. The dramatic effects of the expedition on the participants come to life as they share their experiences and thoughts with readers. The mind-boggling reality of what these people went through to explore and expand this nation instills appreciation for their sacrifices and accomplishments. In notes following the novel, Wolf describes the limited literary liberties he took with some of the details. For example, Thomas Jefferson's closing narrative includes reminiscences of a fictitious boyhood relationship with Lewis. This is an extraordinary, engrossing book that would appeal most to serious readers, but it should definitely be added to any collection.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
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This book, which is based on extensive historical research, uses nontraditional narrative formats to successfully re-create the period and convey the excitement and anxiety of venturing into the unknown. It also puts distinct human faces on famous and not-so-famous names. Wolf's primary narrator is Lewis' dog, Seaman. Thirteen other voices, ranging from President Jefferson and Captains Lewis and Clark to drinker Hugh Hall, and York, Clark's slave, relate the events from their perspectives. These diverse voices reveal in free verse the class structure of the expedition, as well as historical attitudes toward African Americans, Indians, and women. A novel that willl enrich American History studies and stimulate classroom discussion. Linda Perkins
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