Overview

Told from the point of view of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the baby on Sacagawea’s back, this breathtaking picture book reveals the adventure and natural wonders that Lewis and Clark encountered on their Western expedition in the early 1800s. Donna Jo Napoli’s lyrical text and Jim Madsen’s majestic artwork offer a fresh perspective on the remarkable sights and sounds of a young country, and give voice to a character readers are already familiar with: baby Charbonneau is shown on ...
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Overview

Told from the point of view of Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the baby on Sacagawea’s back, this breathtaking picture book reveals the adventure and natural wonders that Lewis and Clark encountered on their Western expedition in the early 1800s. Donna Jo Napoli’s lyrical text and Jim Madsen’s majestic artwork offer a fresh perspective on the remarkable sights and sounds of a young country, and give voice to a character readers are already familiar with: baby Charbonneau is shown on the golden Sacagawea dollar.
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Editorial Reviews

Pamela Paul
…poetic text and lush artwork tell an evocative story…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Through the eyes of baby Jean Baptiste, carried on his mother's back, Napoli (Mama Miti) tells the story of Shoshoni woman Sacagawea's 16-month voyage with pioneers Lewis and Clark from North Dakota to Missouri and back in search of a water passage to the west. Short, poetic descriptions of the landscape and journey ("We paddle/ against the current/ till Bia' points/ at Beaverhead Rock,/ her childhood home at last") close with onomatopoetic phrases that refer to the many animals they meet during the journey: ("Whoop, whoop,/ men dance,/ slip, slip,/ ermines race/ in my dreams." Madsen's (Family Huddle) full-bleed full- and half-spread digital artwork is rendered in warm, earthy hues, shot through with tiny, crackling lines that give the images an aura of old oil paintings. He depicts the changing seasons, modes of transportation (sailboat, canoe, horses), countryside, lodging (teepees, forts), and animal life (cougars, elk, goats, owls) the travelers encounter, readily conveying the majesty and geographic biodiversity of the American west. A refreshing new angle on a familiar story of American history. Ages 4–8. (June)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—On a cradleboard on his mother back, what would a baby boy be thinking as he travels across mountains, through forests, and down rivers in 1805? Napoli expertly gets into the mind of Sacagawea's son. The things that matter to him are grizzly bears, salmon, cougars, elk, and other animals; kind human hands holding him; and hearing a variety of languages. As he describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his incredible journey, he attaches a dreamlike quality to each recollection. His account seems to be fragments of memory stitched together with stories he has been told. The result is a beautiful, atmospheric narrative that explores the possibilities of that momentous expedition. Lewis and Clark are not mentioned by name in the text; his mother, Sacagawea, and his father are the important adults in the boy's eyes. Madsen's glowing illustrations, created digitally, employ rich jewel tones. The scenery and clothing have a crackled appearance that suggests an old painting, but each person's skin is vibrant and smooth, giving an impression of strength regardless of his or her circumstances. The boy grows bigger over the course of the book, implying the passage of time. Children will need nonfiction sources to gain context about Lewis and Clark, but this lyrical picture book will help them understand the journey on a human level.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
From the Publisher
“Short, poetic descriptions of the landscape and journey…close with onomatopoetic phrases that refer to the many animals they meet during the journey…digital artwork is rendered in warm, earthy hues, shot through with tiny, crackling lines that give the images an aura of old oil paintings…readily conveying the majesty and geographic biodiversity of the American west. A refreshing new angle on a familiar story of American history.”
Publishers Weekly, April 25, 2011, *STAR

“Napoli expertly gets into the mind of Sacagawea’s son…a beautiful, atmospheric narrative that explores the possibilities of that momentous expedition….Madsen’s glowing illustrations, created digitally, employ rich jewel tones….Children will need nonfiction sources to gain context about Lewis and Clark, but this lyrical picture book will help them understand the journey on a human level.”

School Library Journal, July 2011

“Poetic text and lush artwork tell an evocative story for children familiar with the history.”

The New York Times Book Review, July 15, 2011

“Full page, full color illustrations beautifully capture the natural landscape surrounding the travelers. Readers will enjoy hearing about this journey from a simplistic yet poetic point of view.”

Library Media Connection, November/December 2011

"Riding in a cradle board on his mother’s back, Sacagawea’s baby son Jean Baptiste provides a fresh perspective on Lewis and Clark’s monumental westward journey.... Richly hued, realistic, digitally rendered illustrations capture the pristine grandeur of the American west and its first inhabitants. The wee narrator, Jean Baptiste, appears on his mother’s back or in her arms in every double-page spread with high plains, waterfalls, mountains, forests and ocean as backdrop until he runs free in the final scene. Experience the wonder of Lewis and Clark’s journey with the youngest expedition member."

- Kirkus Reviews, May 2011

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The journey of Lewis and Clark exploring the Northwest to the Pacific is told through the eyes of the baby of their Native American guide, Sacagawea. Each double page briefly summarizes one of the scenes he sees, along with a repeated sound heard: the "Roar, roar!" of the tall grizzlies, the "Scream, hiss!" of the prowling cougars, the "Clip, clop" of the clambering mountain goats, etc. Over rivers, by waterfalls, visiting his mother's tribal home, into mountains, through canyons in canoes, past more rivers and mountains, the young boy finally reaches a home where, "Hurray, hurray! I run free always and forever in my dreams." Madsen tells the visual story of the changing landscape using digital media to compose naturalistic scenes. He alternates single page close-ups with sweeping double-page vistas of the rugged terrain and the changing weather as the explorers progress to the Pacific. The illustrations offer information about the animals encountered as well as the challenge of the geographic obstacles to overcome. Notes add additional details of the difficult journey. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—On a cradleboard on his mother back, what would a baby boy be thinking as he travels across mountains, through forests, and down rivers in 1805? Napoli expertly gets into the mind of Sacagawea's son. The things that matter to him are grizzly bears, salmon, cougars, elk, and other animals; kind human hands holding him; and hearing a variety of languages. As he describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his incredible journey, he attaches a dreamlike quality to each recollection. His account seems to be fragments of memory stitched together with stories he has been told. The result is a beautiful, atmospheric narrative that explores the possibilities of that momentous expedition. Lewis and Clark are not mentioned by name in the text; his mother, Sacagawea, and his father are the important adults in the boy's eyes. Madsen's glowing illustrations, created digitally, employ rich jewel tones. The scenery and clothing have a crackled appearance that suggests an old painting, but each person's skin is vibrant and smooth, giving an impression of strength regardless of his or her circumstances. The boy grows bigger over the course of the book, implying the passage of time. Children will need nonfiction sources to gain context about Lewis and Clark, but this lyrical picture book will help them understand the journey on a human level.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews

Riding in a cradle board on his mother's back, Sacagawea's baby son Jean Baptiste provides a fresh perspective on Lewis and Clark's monumental westward journey from Fort Mandan, N.D., across the northwestern United States to the Pacific and back between 1805 and 1806.

When Shoshoni guide Sacagawea embarks with the Lewis and Clark expedition, little Jean Baptiste tells readers, "Rolled in a rabbit hide, I am tucked snug in a cradle pack in the whipping cold of a new spring." Along with Jean Baptiste, readers will sail the Missouri River, portage waterfalls, traverse snow-covered mountain passes on horseback, glide in canoes through canyons embellished with rock paintings, gather roots in rain forests, build winter camp and explore whale bones on Pacific shore. As seasons pass and landscapes change, Jean Baptiste describes tall grizzlies, sparkling salmon, prowling cougars, romping elk, racing ermine, clambering goats, jumping deer and buzzing bees with childlike wonder. Richly hued, realistic, digitally rendered illustrations capture the pristine grandeur of the American west and its first inhabitants. The wee narrator, Jean Baptiste, appears on his mother's back or in her arms in every double-page spread with high plains, waterfalls, mountains, forests and ocean as backdrop until he runs free in the final scene.

Experience the wonder of Lewis and Clark's journey with the youngest expedition member. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442435483
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/14/2011
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: NOOK Kids
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,362,938
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • File size: 20 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Donna Jo Napoli is the acclaimed and award-winning author of many novels, both fantasies and contemporary stories. She won the Golden Kite Award for Stones in Water in 1997. Her novel Zel was named an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, a Publishers Weekly Best Book, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon, and a School Library Journal Best Book, and a number of her novels have been selected as ALA Best Books. She is a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband. Visit her at DonnaJoNapoli.com.

Jim Madsen is the illustrator of numerous books for children. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and lives with his wife and kids in Provo, Utah where he enjoys the outdoors, golf, and riding Harley Davidson motorcycles.

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