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Thirteen-year-old Hattie Campbell records the details of her family's harrowing migration to Oregon in a covered wagon and describes the many challenges, both joyful and tragic, that mark the journey.
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Grade 3-7–Hattie Campbell is 13 years old in 1847 when her parents decide to sell their farm in Missouri and make their way across the Oregon Trail to Oregon City for a fresh start after the death of Hatties sisters in this title by Kristiana Gregory (Scholastic, 1997). She is given a journal for her birthday and told to record both the bad and the good, Hattie. And so she does. Teaming up with dozens of other families, the wagon train begins its six-month journey across the prairies and mountains of the West. Their wagons are full and their hearts are hopeful. Hattie reflects upon the slowly changing scenery, the curiously friendly Indians they meet, and the devastating toll the long journey takes. Many in the wagon train arrive in Oregon City on foot with only a few precious possessions. Black-and-white photos, a recipe for Johnny Cake, and maps of the route can be found at the end of the book. The narration is well done, and Hatties youthful voice shines through. While the plot is not riveting, young girls will enjoy Hatties journey and elementary grade social studies classes studying the Oregon Trail will learn about life on the Trail.–Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK
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In a work subtitled ``The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell,'' Gregory (Earthquake at Dawn, 1992, etc.) reconvenes the Dear America series in 1847, as Hattie, her parents, and her two younger brothers begin the long trek from Missouri to Oregon by wagon train. At first the adventure is exciting, but as the days, weeks, and months pass, Hattie realizes what a dangerous and tedious trip it will be. They cross the prairies, hastening the journey as news of the fate of the Donner party reaches them, but death, disease, weather, and the terrain take a terrible toll. The Campbells lose neighbors and friends until they almost believe they cannot bear to continue. Continue they do: Eight months after they set out, the remaining wagons arrive in Oregon City, just in time for Christmas. Through Hattie's diary, Gregory brings the rigors of the trip to life, but she also includes the details that kept the settlers going--the friendships and camaraderie that developed and the joyful events (a wedding and some births) that occurred. Gregory brings a sobering dose of reality to an era that's often romanticized; this is a fine glimpse of history on a human scale. (b&w photos, map) (Fiction. 8-14) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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