The Journal of Jedediah Barstow: An Emigrant on the Oregon Trail (My Name Is America Series)

The Journal of Jedediah Barstow: An Emigrant on the Oregon Trail (My Name Is America Series)

by Ellen Levine
     
 


Orphaned after losing his parents in a rafting accident, Jedediah Barstow must find the courage to follow his family's dream westward along the Oregon Trail.

Having lost his parents and younger sister when they tried to ford a river along the Oregon Trail, Jedediah Barstow decides to make his way to the Oregon Territory on his own. He is "adopted" by the Henshaw

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Overview


Orphaned after losing his parents in a rafting accident, Jedediah Barstow must find the courage to follow his family's dream westward along the Oregon Trail.

Having lost his parents and younger sister when they tried to ford a river along the Oregon Trail, Jedediah Barstow decides to make his way to the Oregon Territory on his own. He is "adopted" by the Henshaw family, who allow him to travel in their wagon in exchange for his help with the daily maintenance work along the way. Jedediah's adventures, along with the friends he makes and the lessons he learns, make for an unforgettable story of a brave young boy who sets off to discover a wild, new world.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A 13-year-old records the day-to-day struggles of the members of a wagon train traveling from Independence, MO, to Oregon. The story begins about two weeks after Jedediah's family drowned trying to cross the Kaw River and ends when the company is a few days' journey from Oregon City. Along the way, the boy records the effort to cross plains, ford rivers, and climb mountains; he tells of encounters with animals and Native Americans; and he describes the personality quirks of fellow travelers. Readers will care about the characters and root for them from first page to last, but an epilogue chronicling their lives after the story's close may confuse some into thinking that these were real people. Back matter includes historical notes and black-and-white photographs of wagons and pioneers on the trail. This is a useful book for social-studies units, especially when paired with Kristiana Gregory's Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie (1997) and Levine's If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon (1992, both Scholastic).--School Library Journal, November 1st, 2002

Thirteen-year-old Jedediah Barstow has just been orphaned during a crossing of the Kaw River. Without a family, he is forced to depend on the generosity of the other pioneers and on his own substantial inner resources. Writing in journal format, Levine (Darkness over Denmark, 1999, etc.) has resolved some of the constraints of the form to tell a gripping, funny, and memorable story of one boy's adventure to Oregon. Readers who are unfamiliar with the details of life on the road will be fascinated by Jedediah's observations: how butter was made, the many uses of buffalo chips, how to divert stampeding buffalo, burial techniques, the myriad decisions the travelers had to make every day, and the various dangers posed by rivers, wildlife, and mountains. Levine, through Jed's well-defined voice, tells a memorable story, filled with the humor, sorrow, and excitement. The journal feels real because Levine leaves in some mistakes in grammar and has Jed comment on his difficulty with language. Poignant "mistakes" remind the reader that Jed is a boy who is slowly recovering from a trauma. (When Jed meets a little girl who is the age of his deceased sister, he accidentally calls the girl "Sally," then crosses out his sister's name to write "Bekka.") But this fictional journal is much more than a vehicle for Levine's research. Underlying the details of daily life on the trail is the story of Jed, the grieving orphan. Thrust into adulthood by unspeakable loss, Jed learns what it means to be a grown-up as he observes the various men and women on the Trail. Cruel Mr. Henshaw, with his worsening temper and alcoholism, allows young Jed to join his family as a servant. Jacob Fenster, an intelligent and thoughtful Jewish man, comes to Jed's rescue many times and forces the young man to reflect on his own religious prejudices. Fix-it man Mr. Littleton hires Jed and teaches him how to fix the many things that break each day, from wagon wheels to personal relationships to false teeth. Jedediah Barstow is an unforgettable character in this fine story of bravery, grief, friendship, and community.--Kirkus Reviews, August 15th, 2002

KLIATT
The stories of traveling by covered wagon across the continent on the Oregon Trail are filled with drama, inevitably. Young Jedediah starts his journal after his parents and little sister drown at a treacherous river crossing. As an orphan, he is taken in by one of the men traveling alone, Jacob Fenster, a Jew. One of the interesting aspects of this account is that a main character is Jewish, facing anti-Semitism from his fellow travelers and coping. (In the note at the end of the novel, Levine says that eventually Jacob Fenster became a judge in the new state of Oregon.) Jedediah is embarrassed about being associated with a Jew and is taken in by another family even though he can't stand the father, a man with a terrible temper. As you can imagine, Jedediah's opinion of Mr. Fenster improves over time. Many of the entries in the diary are about Jedediah's struggles with the angry man who took him in, but the man's kindly wife and little daughter help Jedediah get over the grief of losing his own family. The diary tells of broken equipment, furniture left behind on the banks of rivers that have to be crossed, ailing livestock, an encounter with a bear, and so forth. The details of everyday life on the trail will help students understand what the pioneers endured. Jedediah is a good observer and in the epilogue Levine has him eventually becoming a newsman in Oregon. A solid effort in the series. (My Name is America Series) Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. , Scholastic, 172p.,
— Claire Rosser; KLIATT
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-A 13-year-old records the day-to-day struggles of the members of a wagon train traveling from Independence, MO, to Oregon. The story begins about two weeks after Jedediah's family drowned trying to cross the Kaw River and ends when the company is a few days' journey from Oregon City. Along the way, the boy records the effort to cross plains, ford rivers, and climb mountains; he tells of encounters with animals and Native Americans; and he describes the personality quirks of fellow travelers. Readers will care about the characters and root for them from first page to last, but an epilogue chronicling their lives after the story's close may confuse some into thinking that these were real people. Back matter includes historical notes and black-and-white photographs of wagons and pioneers on the trail. This is a useful book for social-studies units, especially when paired with Kristiana Gregory's Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie (1997) and Levine's If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon (1992, both Scholastic).-Jean Lowery, Bishop Woods Elementary School, New Haven, CT Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Jedediah Barstow has just been orphaned during a crossing of the Kaw River. Without a family, he is forced to depend on the generosity of the other pioneers and on his own substantial inner resources. Writing in journal format, Levine (Darkness over Denmark, 1999, etc.) has resolved some of the constraints of the form to tell a gripping, funny, and memorable story of one boy’s adventure to Oregon. Readers who are unfamiliar with the details of life on the road will be fascinated by Jedediah’s observations: how butter was made, the many uses of buffalo chips, how to divert stampeding buffalo, burial techniques, the myriad decisions the travelers had to make every day, and the various dangers posed by rivers, wildlife, and mountains. Levine, through Jed’s well-defined voice, tells a memorable story, filled with the humor, sorrow, and excitement. The journal feels real because Levine leaves in some mistakes in grammar and has Jed comment on his difficulty with language. Poignant "mistakes" remind the reader that Jed is a boy who is slowly recovering from a trauma. (When Jed meets a little girl who is the age of his deceased sister, he accidentally calls the girl "Sally," then crosses out his sister’s name to write "Bekka.") But this fictional journal is much more than a vehicle for Levine’s research. Underlying the details of daily life on the trail is the story of Jed, the grieving orphan. Thrust into adulthood by unspeakable loss, Jed learns what it means to be a grown-up as he observes the various men and women on the Trail. Cruel Mr. Henshaw, with his worsening temper and alcoholism, allows young Jed to join his family as a servant. Jacob Fenster, an intelligent andthoughtful Jewish man, comes to Jed’s rescue many times and forces the young man to reflect on his own religious prejudices. Fix-it man Mr. Littleton hires Jed and teaches him how to fix the many things that break each day, from wagon wheels to personal relationships to false teeth. Jedediah Barstow is an unforgettable character in this fine story of bravery, grief, friendship, and community. (historical note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439063104
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
09/28/2002
Series:
My Name Is America Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.74(d)
Lexile:
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author


How did people escape on the Underground Railroad? What was it like to land on Ellis Island?How did it feel to travel the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon? Ellen Levine has revealed worldsof fascinating adventure with her nonfiction books for young readers.

Although Ellen Levine enjoys reading and writing fiction, most of her books for young readershave been nonfiction. “Writing nonfiction lets me in behind the scenes of the story. I enjoylearning new things and meeting new people, even if they lived 200 years ago.”

“Real heroes,” Levine says, “aren't necessarily on TV or in the news. They can be ordinarypeople who are willing to take risks for causes they believe in. Nonfiction offers a way tointroduce young readers to real people who have shown tremendous courage, even when facedwith great danger. All of us have the potential. And one doesn't have to be a grown-up,” sheadds.

When she's not writing, Levine likes to share the excitement of research and the importance ofaccuracy with young readers. “Many young people think research is dull; you go to anencyclopedia, copy information, give it a title, and call it a report.” Using her books asexamples, Ellen explains how to get other, more interesting information. “I may not mention theexact words, but I talk to young people about primary and secondary sources. If I'm speakingwith third graders, I ask them, 'Where would I go if I wanted to find out what it's like to be athird grader?' Most will say, 'Read a book.' But when they say, 'Ask a third grader,' I knowthey've understood what I mean by a primary source of inspiration.”

For If You Were an Animal Doctor, for example, Ellen witnessed an emergency operation on acow. While doing research in Wyoming for Ready, Aim, Fire!, her biography of Annie Oakley,she got to hold the gun Ms. Oakley is believed to have shot in the presence of the Queen ofEngland. “It gave me such a strong feeling about this person,” she says. “That's part of research,too.”

Ellen Levine is the author of many acclaimed books, both fiction and nonfiction. Among them:If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon, If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island, I Hate English!, If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King, and Secret Missions. Her recent book, Freedom's Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories, was named one of the Ten Best Children's Books of the Year by The New York Times, and Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association.

Ellen divides her time between New York City and Salem, New York.

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