My Travels with Capts. Lewis and Clark, by George Shannon



Kate McMullan and Adrienne Yorinks

"Delectable period details, surprising facts, and classic moments keep the story lively. An inspiring journey." – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

This fictional journal tells the true story of sixteen–year–old George Shannon's adventures with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, through perilous rock–infested waters, bear attacks, Indian war parties, and a ...

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Kate McMullan and Adrienne Yorinks

"Delectable period details, surprising facts, and classic moments keep the story lively. An inspiring journey." – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

This fictional journal tells the true story of sixteen–year–old George Shannon's adventures with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, through perilous rock–infested waters, bear attacks, Indian war parties, and a host of other thrilling events. Accompanied by Adrienne Yorinks's illustrations drawn as if sewn by George himself, this is an adventure not to be missed.

A fictional journal recounting the travels--from Pittsburgh to the Pacific Ocean--of sixteen-year-old George Shannon, the youngest member of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery.

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Editorial Reviews

I don't know anyone who doesn't like reading someone else's journal, if given permission. In this clever novel, we get a peek into the life of 16-year-old George Shannon, the youngest member of the expedition team. Though the content of the journals is fictional, the writing is based on actual events, and George Shannon was a real person who did experience the trials and tribulations of this adventure into "parts unknown." The style of writing and the short entries that sometimes include sketches will tempt struggling readers to read just one more entry. Readers, perhaps for the first time, will understand just how grueling parts of this trip were for all members of the party. It will give readers an appreciation of the courage and tenacity required for this trip, especially for someone as young as George Shannon. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2004, HarperCollins, 280p. map. illus., Ages 12 to 15.
—Annette Wells
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-The true story of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Corps of Discovery is as exciting as any adventure story. McMullan has created a highly detailed account of this journey using her ancestor George Shannon, an actual teenage member of the Corps of Discovery, as the author of this fictional journal. She has taken some liberties with the truth, placing her fictional Shannon in a more adventurous part of the expedition than he was in real life. The book follows the Corps as it goes up the Missouri River and west to the Pacific, with the teen describing the hardships they faced and the adventures they had. Some sketches and maps clarify the prose. The journal has an authentic tone using sentence structure and vocabulary that could have been written at that time, but Shannon's personality doesn't come through. As fiction this is disappointing, leaving readers wanting richer character development. The imaginary journal McMullan has created here is replete with historical information, but is basically a nonfiction book with some elements of fiction attached. Some factual accounts, such as Rhoda Blumberg's The Incredible Journey of Lewis & Clark (HarperTrophy, 1995) and Elizabeth Cody Kimmel's As Far as the Eye Can Reach (Random, 2003) are more engrossing.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060081003
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/10/2004
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate McMullan is the author of the easy-to-read books featuring Fluffy, the Classroom Guinea Pig, and the middle-grade series Dragon Slayers’ Academy. She is also the author of the 2010 Geisel Honor Book Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day.

Jim McMullan is an internationally acclaimed illustrator and poster designer whose work can be seen in The Theater Posters Of James Mcmullan.

Kate and Jim McMullan have collaborated on many popular picture books, including I’m Big!; I’m Bad!; I’m Dirty, a Child Magazine Best Book; I’m Mighty!; and I Stink!, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book. The McMullans live in Sag Harbor, New York.

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First Chapter

My Travels with Capts. Lewis and Clark, by George Shannon

Chapter One

July 15, 1803

If I write of this day, I must say I counted nails, screws, nuts, bolts, brads, hooks, and locks. I thought I was done when Peter, the shop's errand boy, rolled in a fresh keg of nails, and I started counting again.

This evening I plunked myself down at the kitchen table and toted up my inventory. Uncle Liam kept his hawk eye on me. Twice I added wrong and he thumped me on the head. Hard, too. At last I got the sums added up. Then Uncle said he must see my geography lesson, and I had to confess that somehow my geography book has gone missing.

"You find it, boy," Uncle said, "or I will yank down your breeches and tan your bottom." "Just you try it, Uncle. I may be scrawny, but I am strong. We'll see who gets tanned!" Or so I wish I'd said.

July 22, '03

Uncle Liam had just stepped out of the shop this afternoon when a gentleman came in. He said he'd been promised handsaws at 1 1/2 ¢ cents each, and I sold him all we had at that price. When Uncle came back and learned of the sale, he started screeching how handsaws go for 3 cents a piece, and I'd been cheated. He picked up a hammer, but I ran out of the shop before he could thump my head with that.

* * *

Snagged my breeches on a nail and tore a hole. I got out the little red "housewife" kit stuffed with needles, threads, and such that Ma gave me when I left home. I had a devil of a time poking the thread into the needle eye, but at last I got her through and stitched up the tear. A neat job, too.

July 23, '03

Uncle Liam saw me stitching. Tonight after supper, he handed me two pairs of holey socks to mend. I am half glad for his socks, as they took Uncle's mind off my lessons. No sign of my geography book. How Ma's sister came to marry Uncle Liam, I will never understand.

July 30, '03

Uncle Liam dished out rice and beans for supper. I spied chunks of pork in his bowl, but search as I might, I found none in mine. When I asked why, Uncle said, "You eat like a horse, boy. I can't hardly afford to keep you in beans." Uncle complains of a toothache.

Aug. 3, '03

Uncle Liam's tooth still nags him. The barber could pull it, but Uncle Liam says he won't spend good money on a bad tooth.

I turned my room upside down, looking for Geography Made Easy. No luck.

Aug. 4, '03

Uncle shook me awake in the night. His rotten tooth was paining him bad, and he said I must yank it. I followed him to the kitchen, where he gulped down some whiskey. Then he handed me the pliers, pressed his back to the wall, and opened wide. Uncle's breath stank worse than old Red Dog's back home, and the lantern gave poor light, but at last I found the culprit way in the back of his mouth and got a grip. I pulled. Uncle Liam hollered. We kept this up for awhile, but nothing came of it. Next I braced my foot against his gut, and twisted and wrenched that tooth in a most horrible manner, but it would not be yanked. At last Uncle shoved me aside. He staggered off to bed, saying it is a good thing I am not a tooth-puller's apprentice. For once, I agree with my uncle.

Aug. 5, '03

The barber pulled the tooth. Uncle Liam brought it home. He says he paid so much for this tooth, it would be a shame to toss it out, so he set it on the mantle for a decoration, propped up against the frame holding a lock of hair from Ma's poor dead sister.

Aug. 6, '03

Peter is fevered. Uncle says I must run to the wharf in his stead to fetch a batch of hinges. At last I am to escape this musty shop!

* * *

No sooner had I set foot on the wharf, than a hairy black beast lunged at me and knocked me down. I grabbed the monster's throat. I was near to choking the life out of it when a man shouted, "Seaman, off!" The beast leaped from me.

A tall, yellow-haired man in a military jacket put out a hand and hauled me to my feet. He asked if I was hurt. I said I was not but backed away, saying I'd never been up close to a bear.

The man laughed. "This is no bear," he said. "Seaman is a Newfoundland dog, a breed known to be most gentle and intelligent." He added that he was puzzled as he had never known his dog to leap on anyone before.

The man gave me his name then: Captain Meriwether Lewis. His shaggy dog eyed me, very eager. He put me in mind of my old Red Dog, hoping for supper scraps, and I guessed the reason for the attack. From my breast pocket I drew one of the dried beef sticks I've taken to carrying to ease my hunger pangs between meals. I held it out, Seaman took it, and we became fast friends.

Captain Lewis said, "Young man, would you care to see a great marvel?"

I cared to, and he led the way down the wharf, stopping beside a half-finished boat.

"I designed her myself," the Captain said proudly. "She is fifty-five feet long. When complete, she will have a cabin at the stern and benches for twenty-two men pulling oars."

I asked where he was bound in such a fine craft, and his eyes lit up.

"If the whiskey-guzzling sluggard of a boatbuilder ever finishes her up," he said, "I will shove off for the Pacific Ocean!"

My Travels with Capts. Lewis and Clark, by George Shannon. Copyright © by Kate McMullan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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