‘Sacagawea’ is an excellent biography book intended for children. Liselotte Erdrich is a Native American writer, so she shows a deep understanding of the life and values of a Native American woman, Sacagawea, who has become a part of history. This book is marvelously written and reads like a legend though it presents real historical facts. ‘Sacagawea’ narrates the destiny of a young Shoshone girl who was kidnapped from her tribe when she was about twelve years old. Four years later, she got married to a Canadian fur trapper Toussaint Charbonneau. In 1805, she joined the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Sacagawea became famous for her contribution to the success of this Expedition. She acted as an interpreter and diplomat during the journey. Many times Sacagawea saved the expedition, she lead them through wild forests and found food when the reserves were exhausted. Sacagawea has also become an example of heroism. Her son was only several months old when the expedition set off and she traveled thousands of miles with the baby on her back.
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This book presents historical facts but reads like a beautiful legend. It is written in a simple manner so that children of any age could understand it. Though this book is intended for children, adult readers may also enjoy reading it. The illustrations by Julie Buffalohead add some specific charm to this book. Nancy Anderson in her book ‘Elementary Children’s Literature’ underlines the fact that literature for children does not comprise only fairy tales. It has many different genres to develop the children’s imagination and form their worldview (Anderson, 2012).
The author was careful in the historic facts, it is known that the Lewis and Clark Expedition set off in1805 and the legend says that Sacagawea had spent four years in the Hidatsa tribe. That is why the author begins the story with words: ‘In a Rocky Mountain Valley where three rivers flow into one, near the year 1800, a group of Shoshone Indians had set up a camp.’ (Erdrich, 2003).
Liselotte Erdrich tells a real story of an Indian girl who took part in the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Sacagawea’s contribution to the Expedition has made her a part of history. She lead the Expedition through the Rocky Mountains and returning to St. Louis the members of the Expedition were met like heroes.
In this book, the author also provides the timeline of the major events in Sacagawea’s life based on historical facts. It is clear that the author has made a thorough research of the historical facts about the Lewis and Clark Expedition and gathered all possible information about Sacagawea’s life after the Expedition. In the afterword, the author presents some facts about the Expedition and the map of its route.
This story shows Sacagawea as a very strong and brave woman who endured an extremely long journey with a little baby in her hands. The author also describes Sacagawea’s life with Hidatsa, the way she got used to their customs, and her love of gardening.
This book is a marvelous story based on historical facts. The author presents the story through the eyes of the protagonist. This gives a deeper understanding of the feelings and experiences of the main character. ‘Sacagawea’ is a beautiful story about a woman who has become a legend.
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Anderson, N. (2012). Elementary Children’s Literature: Infancy Through Age 13 (4th ed.). Boston, USA: Allyn & Bacon.
Erdrich, L. (2003). Sacagawea. New York: Carolrhoda.