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The Captain's Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe (Great Episodes) Kindle Edition

78 customer reviews

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Length: 304 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Age Level: 10 - 12
Grade Level: 5 - 7

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In addition to Girl of the Shining Mountains (reviewed above), which gives Sacagawea's perspective on Lewis and Clark's exploration, Smith's (Thunder Cave; Jaguar) historical novel imagines the duo's epic 1804-1806 journey through the eyes of Captain Lewis's Newfoundland dog, Seaman. The novel opens in 1808, when two former members of the expedition discover Seaman living with Nez Perce Indians; one of them presents the pair with Lewis's red-leather journal, rescued by Seaman. This opening framework may be mechanical, but the novel eventually hits its stride: as the traders read aloud the entries (actual text from Lewis's journals), they trigger Seaman's flashbacks. The canine's perspective, both fresh and original, is most effective in objectively relating a diverse array of customs and tribes. The narration strikes a note of humor, too, especially when Seaman offers insight into a dog's life: "Dogs know humans better than they will ever know us." Seaman's voice, however, does not adhere to a canine purview as cannily as Henrietta Branford's recent Fire, Bed and Bone, and the narrative occasionally lapses into admonishment (e.g., when Lewis berates himself for his failed iron boat scheme, Seaman mentally recounts the man's resume of accomplishments). An author's note offers little historical perspective on the expedition, but readers may well leave with a thirst for more of Lewis and Clark's adventures. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Grade 5-8-This is the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition as witnessed by Seaman, the massive Newfoundland dog that accompanied the two captains. Faithful to their original diaries, the novel brings to life the day-to-day challenges faced by the team charged with the task of exploring the American West and searching for the legendary Northwest Passage. Action and adventure abound: frequent attacks by grizzly bears and voracious mosquitoes, arduous crossings of nearly impassable landscapes, mutiny and desertion, and close encounters with both friendly and hostile Indians. However, while Seaman's narration is inventive, Smith has difficulty sustaining it, mainly because the dog is such a minor player in the momentous events that he describes. His point of view often seems too omniscient and introspective, resulting in a narrative that sounds uncomfortably human. Only when he recalls a purely canine memory such as marking trees does he snap readers back to the realization that this storyteller is indeed four-legged. Still, this occasional awkwardness does not diminish the scope and power of this entertaining introduction to an episode of American history rarely celebrated in fiction. For another novel about Seaman and his role in the expedition, look to Gail Langer Karwoski's Seaman (Peachtree, 1999), a lively account in which this brave animal is a much more central character.
William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2359 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Publication Date: August 1, 2000
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003WJQ79E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,431 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

NYT Bestselling author Roland Smith is a former Zoo Curator and Research Biologist. He has published more than twenty novels for young adults. He and his wife, Marie, who is also an author, live on a small farm near Portland, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Julie Sprague on April 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I thouroughly enjoyed The Captain's Dog and felt the voice of Seaman gave the novel an added flair. Many times I was so lost in the story, I forgot Seaman was a dog. I especially like this novel because it lays a strong foundation for further research into the adventures of Lewis and Clark. Readers get to meet and know so many interesting characters. The characterization of Captain Lewis is so complete I felt as if he was an old friend. I laughed and cried when reading this novel. It has heart, adventure, and a little bit of mystery. The descriptive details give evidence to the extensive research which must have gone into writing this novel. Bravo, Roland Smith! How about a new historical novel about merchant seaman or pirates. Perhaps Seaman could come along as well.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Parent on April 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Captain's Dog is a good choice for a young reader who likes dogs and adventure. And it is also great for a subtle education about early western history. The story is told from the dog's perspective. Although fictional in nature, the history is accurate, the story could actually have happened, and it is believable. The point of view of the story may be somewhat difficult for a young person under 12 years old to follow because it comes from three perspectives. Each chapter opens with two men who went with the Lewis & Clark expedition reminiscing about the journey. They read from one of Lewis' diaries. Then Seaman, the dog, starts remembering and thinking of his adventures on the trip which takes up most of the chapter. Not being able to follow the change in narrator does not take anything away from the story, however. The chapters are short, the story moves along pretty well, and the reading appears to be at about a 4th to 6th grade level. The Captain's Dog is a perfect gift for the child or young boy or girl who likes to read, appreciates animals, and has a hankering for adventure and fun. I think it would be popular for Jr. High School students also.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By riofriotex on August 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What an enjoyable way to learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, from the perspective of a dog! �The Captain�s Dog� is Seaman, a Newfoundland dog that belonged to Captain Meriwether Lewis. Seaman accompanied him and Captain William Clark and their Corps of Discovery on the search for the overland water route to the Pacific in the early 1800�s. Here, Roland Smith's historical fiction is thoroughly researched and credible. Through Seaman, we meet many fascinating characters, experience the journey�s hazards, and get an ingenious feel for what life in the Corps was like from the inside. Readers will enjoy the typical doglike behavior displayed by Seaman, such as marking his territory and sniffing out animals and humans from miles away. He is curious and courageous, as all fine explorers should be. Each chapter is told from three perspectives, using people who knew or accompanied Lewis and Clark speaking in third person, then reading excerpts from Lewis� personal diary, followed by Seaman recalling his adventures and observations in first person. The changes in viewpoint and lack of illustrations might make this book difficult for younger readers. I would recommend it for fifth grade reading level and up, especially as a great introduction or supplement for students studying the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. Hudecek on June 21, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book to my niece and nephew (they were 8 and 10 respectively) a couple of years ago and I can't wait to read it to my own kids when they get old enough. Being from South Dakota, I know of a lot of the places this book took us which is important but the book was also filled with a lot of had us laughing, crying and cheering! Not too many books do that these days. Rock on, Roland Smith! And just for the record, my niece and nephew and I still talk about this book to this day. Parents, read to your kids!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By kim on December 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Seaman was given the opportunity to go with Lewis and Clark on their adventure to find the North-West Passage. I mean, who would give up the chance to go with some of the most fascinating people in our history? Oh, did I forget to mention that Seaman was a dog traded to Captain Meriweather Lewis? Together, they take an exciting journey to find new things never seen before, people they have never met, and dangers they will never think of facing.
Seaman is a big black dog, which is often mistaken by many of the Native Americans they meet as a big black grizzly bear. He is very brave, always trying to do something heroic. He saves the expedition many times. Even once he almost died from a beaver attacking him while trying to save half of the men. He also comes face to face with grizzly bears and wolves many times. Those were two of the biggest threats to Seaman besides starvation. Out of that big characteristic, there was one more that stood out, loyalty. When someone wanted to go for a walk, Seaman would always go with them. He never gave up on anyone, especially when Captain Lewis had some emotional breakdowns.
I think, The Captain's Dog, by Roland Smith seemed like a roller coaster of our history. It had its ups and downs. You always expect something exciting, but by the end of the chapter you'll have experienced, by reading this book something greater than you've imagined. You can really learn a lot in this story from all the true facts in this book. If you like reading those diary type books, then you'll love reading this! It is just like reading a diary from your own dog. This book reminded me of my friend's dog, and how he would think of these adventures if he could read. I highly recommend this book for ages twelve and up because young children will find it to difficult to understand. Those who are older...GO AND READ IT!
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