The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds: The Donner Party Expedition, 1846by Rodman R. Philbrick
In Rodman Philbrick's first MY NAME IS AMERICA book, he tells the harrowing story of the Donner Party through the viewpoint of Douglas Allen Deeds, an enthusiastic young farm boy traveling West with the doomed expedition.
"Today I embark on a great journey." This initial, optimistic entry in a 15-year-old orphan's journal exemplifies the Donner Party's hopes for a new and better life in California. Although he knows the James Reed and George Donner lack experience in such an endeavore as a trek west, Deeds believes in the men. He describes the many difficulties encountered on the journey, including river crossing, poor roads, and fear of Native Americans. Little by little, the hardships increase--members of the group die from illness or injury, and the number of wagons dwindles. The decision to use the Hasting "shortcut" proves deadly. Trapped in the snow and facing starvation, the Donner Party is transformed from a group of cooperative and generous people into one plagued by suspicion and selfishness, resorting even to cannibalism (no graphic details). In the epilogue, readers are told that Deeds and his friend Edward Breen were among the first to discover gold in California. Using actual events and characters, this fictional journal brings a tragic story to life, showing the changes in people brought about by incredible hardships. A selection of archival photographs is included.
--School Library Journal, December 2001
Meet the Author
Rodman Philbrick is the author of six award-winning novels for young readers. His first novel, Freak the Mighty, won the California Young Reader Medal. It was received with great acclaim and has sold more than a million copies. The sequel, Max the Mighty, received starred reviews, and his novel The Fire Pony was named a 1996 Capital Choice. His more recent books for the Blue Sky Press are REM World; The Last Book in the Universe, which was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; and The Young Man and the Sea, which received a starred review from School Library Journal. He and his wife live in Maine and the Florida Keys.
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