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Children's LiteratureAuthor Englar writes a clear story of the life and adventures of the French explorer La Salle. The 32-page picture biography is divided into six short chapters. In the first, the reader is introduced to La Salle who traveled from the Great Lakes all the way to the Mississippi River, claiming for France all of the land and rivers that touched the Mississippi. He named the land Louisiana in honor of King Louis the XIV. The second chapter opens with La Salle's birth in 1643 in Rouen, France. At a young age he went to a school run by Catholic priests and decided to become a priest. But he changed his mind because he wanted to travel to North America (Canada) where the French had a colony called New France. La Salle settled in Montreal and became a fur trader, learning a lot from the Indians. But La Salle wanted to continue his travels, so he set out with a group of fourteen men and a few priests. Historians think La Salle may have reached the Ohio River. In 1677, La Salle sailed to France to ask permission to explore the Mississippi River. The King agreed and requested he build forts for the French during his travels. In 1682, La Salle reached the Mississippi River and then the Gulf of Mexico. La Salle went back to France, returning in 1684 with over 300 people to start a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River—but they could not find it. (They were in actually in what is now known as Texas.) La Salle's luck turned even worse as many of the colonists died from disease or fighting Indians. Their ships had sunk, so La Salle and some men went in search of help. The men were so angry at their situation that they killed the explorer. La Salle's legacy as a daring and courageous explorerwill appeal to readers interested in geography and history. Color illustrations and maps are included. Also, fast facts, a timeline, glossary, further reading and Internet sites. This biography is part of the "Fact Finder" series published by Capstone Press. 2005, Capstone Press, Ages 8 to 12.
—Della A. Yannuzzi