Rachel's Journal

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In this first book in the Young American Voices series, young Rachel and her family travel by covered wagon following the Oregon Trail from Illinois all the way to California. The terrain is rough and the seven-month trip is filled with adventure?a surprise encounter with Indians, a thunderous buffalo stampede, even the perilous crossing of a flooded river. Rachel's own handwritten journal chronicles every detail and features cherished "pasted-in" mementos?wildflowers, buttons, quilt patches?gathered along the ...

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In this first book in the Young American Voices series, young Rachel and her family travel by covered wagon following the Oregon Trail from Illinois all the way to California. The terrain is rough and the seven-month trip is filled with adventure—a surprise encounter with Indians, a thunderous buffalo stampede, even the perilous crossing of a flooded river. Rachel's own handwritten journal chronicles every detail and features cherished "pasted-in" mementos—wildflowers, buttons, quilt patches—gathered along the way. Hear Rachel's story in her own words as she and her family make their way to their new home in California.

In her journal, Rachel chronicles her family's adventures traveling by covered wagon on the Oregon Trail in 1850.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Moss extends the format she perfected in Amelia's Notebook and Amelia Writes Again to cover historical fiction in this solidly researched and wholly captivating illustrated diary "by" a 10-year-old girl who travels with her family along the Oregon Trail in 1850. The excitements and hardships of the seven-month journey spring vividly to life, whether Rachel is crossing the eerie, skeleton-strewn Nevada desert by moonlight, trading her long red braids for an Indian pony, eating flour soup when provisions get low, or awakening one morning to greet a new baby sister. Character sketches--of the shiftless Mr. Bridger; the oh-so-perfect Prudence Elias, bane of tomboy Rachel's days; sourpuss Mr. Henry Sunshine, whose wife, Louisa, providentially drops her dentures during a tense encounter with the Pawnee, frightening them away--are a sheer delight, adding depth, texture and, of course, humor. The language is equally colorful. One of the smaller children in Rachel's wagon party, for example, is "no bigger than a bar of soap after a week's wash." Moss shoehorns in an amazing amount of information, giving readers an excellent understanding of life on the trail. Lined sepia-toned pages give the book the look of an antique diary; and, in the style of the Amelia books, hand-lettered text and cleverly captioned thumbnail illustrations with a childlike sensibility add to the authentic feel. This engrossing glimpse of the westward movement is as good a choice for pleasure reading as it is a valuable classroom resource. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Leslie Julian
Covered wagons, glowing buffalo muffins, raging river crossings, mouse pills, and friendly Indians are the images shared through the words and drawings of Rachel. She and her family bravely press on beyond the Continental Divide, left at the Oregon Trail, through the desert to the Sierra Mountains, and on to California. It is the story of overland emigrants in the mid to late 1800's, of courage, adventure, and of pioneer spirit.
From The Critics
This journal is a fictional story of a girl's trip along the Oregon Trail towards California. Based on real-life accounts researched by the author, this story preserves much of the historic detail. Rachel is an expressive, artistic, and intelligent girl, and her drawings, notes, and stories of the journey will entertain and teach young readers about a fascinating chapter in American history. 2001, Harcourt Brace & Company, $7.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: A. Braga SOURCE: Parent Council Volume 8
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Ten-year-old Rachel records her family's trip west from Illinois to California in 1850. The girl's voice is fresh and enthusiastic; for her, the journey is filled with exciting new experiences. She learns to drive the wagon and crack the whip, climbs Courthouse Rock and views the sunset, and even cuts off her long red braids and trades them for an Indian pony. She does have occasional moments of contemplation, thinking about faraway relatives and friends. Overall, however, her journal paints a rosy picture of this dangerous voyage: there are some injuries but no serious illnesses or deaths, encounters with different Native Americans are all friendly, and Rachel's new baby sister arrives safely at the end. An author's note explains that the narrative is based on numerous children's diaries from the period, and that many of the writers viewed the trek as "one long adventure." The hand-lettered script and yellowed, lined-paper background create the look of a diary. Watercolor illustrations and notes in the margins add to the personal look of the book and often provide helpful supplementary information. Rachel's Journal is a good choice for those readers not quite ready to tackle the "Dear America" series (Scholastic) and for Laura Ingalls Wilder fans who want to read more about pioneer life.-Robin L. Gibson, Muskingum County Library System, Zanesville, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Moss (Amelia's Notebook, 1995) offers another hand-lettered diary, but this time goes back in history to 1850, for an account of a journey by wagon train from Illinois to California. In buoyant, gossipy, sometimes irreverent entries, ten-year-old Rachel records incidents (all, readers are assured, drawn from actual 19th-century journals) and observations at every stage, from the bustling Missouri River crossing ("Pa says it is so crowded you cannot find a place to piss in peace") through the Sierra Nevadas, where the Donner Party came to grief, and on to a new home along the Sacramento. Passing many relics and remains of less- fortunate travelers, the group of families survives plenty of hardship, while Rachel enjoys a succession of personal adventures, switching to boysþ clothing when an ox eats her wool dress and trading her red hair for a Pawnee's pony. Printed on lined, sometimes stained paper, the text presents no legibility problems, and is enhanced by a plentitude of small colored drawings. Young armchair explorers will find Rachel an entertaining guide to the trails and trials of the westward movement. (map) (Fiction. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756942250
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/28/2001
  • Series: Young American Voices
  • Sales rank: 958,177
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

MARISSA MOSS is best known for her handwritten illustrated journals, including the enormously popular Amelia series. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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Customer Reviews

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