Roughing It on the Oregon Trail
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Roughing It on the Oregon Trail

by Diane Stanley, Holly Berry, Holly Berry

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What if you could close your eyes and open them to find you were amongst hundreds of pioneers in 1843, packing up your covered wagon to travel the 2,000 miles of the Oregon Trail? Meet twins Liz and Lenny and their unique grandmother, who, with the help of her magic hat, can transport the twins to any time in history. In their first journey, the twins spend eight


What if you could close your eyes and open them to find you were amongst hundreds of pioneers in 1843, packing up your covered wagon to travel the 2,000 miles of the Oregon Trail? Meet twins Liz and Lenny and their unique grandmother, who, with the help of her magic hat, can transport the twins to any time in history. In their first journey, the twins spend eight months crossing the country on foot and by covered wagon, braving the mountain ranges and river valleys, battling floods and droughts, and cooking slam-johns and sowbellies over buffalo chips.

Diane Stanley's spirited, humorous, and historically accurate depiction of day-to-day life on the Oregon Trail is brought to life with Holly Berry's energetic illustrations. Overflowing with fun, informative details, and word balloons that capture each piece of dialogue, young readers will be transported into an exciting page in American history alongside the adventurous Time-Traveling Twins.

Children's Pick of the Lists 2000(ABA) and Children's Books 2000-NY Public Lib.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Stanley (Peter the Great) launches a new historical picture book series about the Time Traveling Twins--red-haired brother and sister Lenny and Liz. Left with Grandma while their parents vacation in Paris, the twins soon strike out on an adventure of their own when Grandma whips out her magic hat and whisks them back to 1843. There they meet up with ancestors traveling the Oregon Trail. Stanley serves up a lively blend of fact and fiction as she recounts their journey, shoehorning in information on everything from the rigors of the terrain and weather to trail food ("slam-johns and sowbelly," or pancakes and bacon) and prairie fuel (buffalo chips), as well as citing relevant milestones such as the Panic of 1837 and the Louisiana Purchase. Berry (Market Day) adheres to authentic details in her sprightly cartoon-like illustrations, and she accommodates a balanced mix of straightforward text and speech bubbles that allow Grandma to provide some context (e.g., how Native Americans were affected by the Westward movement). The twins' modern perspective offers generous dollops of humor (a pioneer girl boasts that her doll, Jenny, "even has a second dress!" to which Liz replies, "I have a doll named Barbie, and she has lots of clothes!"). Berry makes use of every inch of space, alternating broad vistas with smaller panels (one series shows how the cooking was done), and the endpapers contrast the Oregon Trail in 1843 to its present-day appearance. Given this altogether appealing, highly useful introduction to an important slice of American history, readers will likely be eager to follow the twins on their next excursion. Ages 5-10. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
After reading this delightful time-travel adventure, kids will be wishing their grandmothers, like Liz and Lenny's, had a magic hat. Not content to just talk about their ancestors, Grandma and the twins don appropriate clothing and experience history firsthand. Stanley's reputation for meticulous research is evident in the simple yet lively text that chronicles the adventure. Whether it is the cramped quarters of a covered wagon, the exuberance of a dance, the difficulties of fording a river, or the apprehension at meeting with Native Americans, Berry's full color illustrations capture the many moods and emotions. Deft touches of humor abound in both the text and pictures, along with snappy dialog between the pioneers and their modern-day counterparts. One minor flaw--the small print in the dialog balloons may present a problem for young readers. From the endpapers, with their contrast between the 1840s and the present-day Oregon Trail, to the text within, this is an example of what nonfiction for youngsters should be. Let's hope that Grandma can do for history what Ms. Frizzle has done for science. Pair this with Goodman's Ultimate Field Trip 4: A Week in the 1800s, for a truly unique, hands-on experience. 2000, HarperCollins,
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Not as comic or as busy as Joanna Cole's "Magic School Bus" tutorials (Scholastic), this initial series entry is gently informative. Twins Liz and Lenny's vacation to their grandmother's house becomes an adventure when Grandma dons her magic hat and they (along with her amusing pup, Moose) travel back to 1843 when their ancestors left Missouri and headed to Oregon on a wagon train. The siblings' narrative describing their journey is enlivened by numerous dialogue balloons and tells of their virtual months of eating bacon and beans, encountering buffalo and friendly Indians, and making sacrifices like leaving heavy heirlooms along the trail. Historical tidbits like the Panic of 1837 are mentioned and keep the story focused and useful as a curriculum supplement. Two-page spreads feature single, double, triptych, or even larger split-page groups of folksy, colored-pencil illustrations depicting prairie landscapes and stiff, simply drawn, cartoonlike pioneers and Indians. Overall, an engaging trip and a painless history lesson.-John Sigwald, Unger Memorial Library, Plainview, TX Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Mom and Dad are off to Paris, but Grandma has a better trip in mind for Liz and Lenny. All three dress in clothes from the attic; then Grandma puts on her magic hat and takes the kids and the dog, Moose, back in time to 1843. There they join their ancestors traveling west in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. Stanley (A Time Apart, 1999, etc.) gives a humorous and historically accurate account, with tidbits about cooking on the trail, encounters with Native Americans, and hunting for berries and wild onions in the meadows near the Bear River. Even history buffs will find something new in this description; for example, the author describes removing the wheels from covered wagons, covering the wagon frames with buffalo hides rubbed with tallow and ashes, and floating the wagons across the river. The travelers and their dogs add their own quips and comments on the journey in conversation balloons. Berry (Market Day, 1996, etc.) provides appealing illustrations, rich in detail. The front endpapers show a map of the Oregon Trail in 1843 while the back endpapers show a map of the Oregon Trail today. An author's note explains that it stretches 2,170 miles and was traveled by over 400,000 settlers between 1840 and 1880. Young readers who have discovered The Magic School Bus will relish this adventure of "The TimeTraveling Twins," and look forward to further adventures. (Nonfiction. 610)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Time-Traveling Twins Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.00(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Diane Stanley is the author and illustrator of beloved books for young readers, including The Silver Bowl, which received three starred reviews, was named a best book of the year by Kirkus Reviews and Book Links Lasting Connections, and was an ALA Booklist Editors' Choice; The Cup and the Crown; Saving Sky, winner of the Arab American Museum's Arab American Book Award and a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year; Bella at Midnight, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and an ALA Booklist Editors' Choice; The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy; The Mysterious Matter of I. M. Fine; and A Time Apart. Well known as the author and illustrator of award-winning picture-book biographies, she is the recipient of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children and the Washington Post-Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award for her body of work.

Ms. Stanley has also written and illustrated numerous picture books, including three creatively reimagined fairy tales: The Giant and the Beanstalk, Goldie and the Three Bears, and Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Holly Berry is an award-winning artist and illustrator of picture books for children. Her books include I'm a Pig by Sarah Weeks, The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires, and Market Day by Eve Bunting, among others. She lives on a blueberry farm in Maine with her family and a few pets—including a cat named Flossie.

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