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Sacagawea (Carter G Woodson Award Book (Awards)) Hardcover – July 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5-Kidnapped by Hidatsa warriors as a child and given in marriage as a teen to a French Canadian fur trapper, this young Shoshone woman played an incalculable role in American history. Erdrich acknowledges some gaps in what is known about Sacagawea, but her picture-book account is faithful to the historical record as she quickly sketches the young woman's origins and then focuses on her experiences with Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery. Sacagawea's story is tantalizing in its brevity and irony. Brought along as a secondary figure by her opportunist husband, she evidently saved the trip from ruin on several occasions. Little is known of her after the return home, except for the fact that she gave her young son over to Captain Clark's care within a few years' time and likely died not long thereafter. The text is sometimes wooden, but the author does a fine job of describing the setting and background of the group's impressive adventure. The richly hued, impressionistic paintings also create a good sense of time and place. An afterword mentions other speculations. This solid introduction to an intriguing woman should whet readers' appetites for more on this complex chapter of American history.
Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-6. In this handsome, large-size picture-book biography, an Ojibway writer and a Ponca artist tell the story of the young Shoshone woman who traveled west with Lewis and Clark. There are gaps in the story, but Erdrich avoids the usual mistake of making a smooth narrative by filling in with fiction. Instead, she is scrupulous about the facts, and, in an afterword, distinguishes between what's certain and what probably happened. The story begins when the girl, age 11, is kidnapped by Hidatsa warriors. At about 15, she's given in marriage to a much older French Canadian fur trapper and eventually gives birth to a boy, nicknamed "Pomp," shortly before starting on the journey west. Her personal story (including her anguished reunion with her brother) is set against the discovery expedition, during which she acts as interpreter and guide. The unforgettable full-page oil paintings, in warm earth colors, focus on the brave young woman, showing her roots, her extraordinary skills, her melancholy, and her bond with her child and with Clark. A time line, a map, and a brief bibliography follow the story. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Series: Carter G Woodson Award Book (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0876146469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876146460
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 9.5 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #706,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If only this story had the texture of the oil paintings, this would have been an excellent book. Instead, there is very little context about Native American (or Indian, if you prefer) life, the relationships among the tribes and the white explorers/invaders, and the Thomas Jefferson's motivation for conquest that motivated and funded the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Relationships are mentioned but not explored. How was Sacagawea "given in marriage" to the white fur trapper, was it consensual; for that matter, were such marriages ever consensual? Why did Lewis and Clark have such affection for her son, nicknamed "Pompy," and what was the meaning of the nickname?" Was Sacagawea especially resourceful, or were her talents fairly typical for a female Shoshone?

Of course, this is a book for kids, and we can't expect mature psychologically-oriented portrayals. Still, the author aims her book for a somewhat older audience (perhaps older elementary and junior high), and she doesn't spare factual details. What's missing, perhaps, are the kind of details that help an audience identify emotionally with the protagonist. At one point, Sacagawea, as interpreter, attends a meeting with Lewis and Clark and the Shoshone chief:

"But when she looked at the face of the Shoshone chief, she burst into tears. He was her brother, Cameahwait! Sacagawea jumped up, threw her blanket over her brother, and wept!Cameahwait was moved, too. But the council had to continue. Though tears kept flooding back. Sacagawea kept to her duty until the council ended."

Howver, we don't learn what happened after the council ended. Perhaps no one knows. Still, we are told that something happened when the council was over--why bring it up if it just ends abruptly?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rosy M Guthrie on December 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The paintings (illustrations) are beautiful, they capture the beauty, thoughtfulness and resourcefulness of the main character. They make her the central figure and the white men in the story the are the backdrop, as it should be, as it is a story about a Native American girl.
I am rating this book 5 stars solely on the illustrations. The text is written like a history lesson rather than a children's story. The text to me is based on white values - where dates and facts are the main focus. There is just not much story or feeling in the text - it is all in the illustrations.
A dog is introduced and then not brought up again except in the illustrations. The text is a little disorienting... it isn't easy to follow.
As an adult, I will use the book as a picture book and then read to kids in a paraphrased manner... not making up anything about Sacagawea - but utilizing the illustrations to tell the story and to bring to life this character.
The publisher missed a chance here. The illustrations are award winning and the text is plain and dull. Maybe the name Erdrich is well know, but here it did not live up to my standards of what children's stories can/should be.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mom300 on May 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
My daughter received this as a 5th birthday present and loved it so much that she insisted (in a very excited manner) that I read it to her again. She loved the content and illustrations, as well as the timeline, the map, and the afterward. So that's a ringing endorsement from a child (who was already interested in Sacagawea). As a parent (who is neither Native American nor a historian), I think this would be a good addition to a school-age child's (maybe PK to 3rd grade) library. While the text was a little slow at some points, my daughter didn't mind. In response to other reviewers' comments, I have to say that it is important for parents to discuss the historical and social context of this book. Parents should have discussions with their children about any book that they read together. I think the author provides many opportunities to begin these discussions, including the marriage, that Sacagawea was not paid, and the lack of historical proof about what really happened to Sacagawea after the expedition.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a large, beautifully illustrated picture book aimed at ages 6-12 that presents the story of Sacagawea's journey with Louis & Clark in a well-researched, complete, and well-written fashion, with a map at the back of the book for reference. There is an author's note in the front of the book that tells about the name Sacagawea, and an afterward in the back that tells what is known about when and where she died.

Other reviewers expressed a desire for more detail about the relationships of the characters. Although those details would be interesting to read in another book, this book does an excellent job of presenting to the 6-12 age group the history of the expedition with a focus on Sacagawea.
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Sacagawea (Carter G Woodson Award Book (Awards))
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