Thursday, July 23, 2020

Review of "Oregon Trail: The Road to Destiny," a graphic novel by Frank Young and David Lasky

Review of
Oregon Trail: The Road to Destiny, a graphic novel by Frank Young and David Lasky ISBN 9781570616495

Five out of five stars
May not be pure history, but it is correct history
 This graphic novel presents history as it was for so many people that made the slightly over 2,000 mile journey from St. Louis, Missouri to Salem, Oregon. History refers to the path as the Oregon Trail and an estimated 350,000 people made the trek by wagon in search of land and a new life. So many wagons followed the same path that there are places where the ruts made by the wagon wheels are still visible today.
 This graphic novel is narrated by Rebecca Weston, and she is eleven years old when her father, John Weston, sold nearly all they owned to pay for the equipment the family needed to travel by wagon from St. Louis, Missouri to Salem, Oregon. John worked at a newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland before they made the trip, so they literally went from coast to coast. John had sent a printing press ahead by ship and his plan is to start his own newspaper in their new home.
 Aspects of their journey not commonly covered in the history are mentioned. Such as the fact that they could not start their journey until there was enough grass to provide fodder for the draft animals. Another fact mentioned here that I was unaware of until I crossed the state of Oregon is that most of the eastern part of the state is near waterless desert.
 The story is a good one, mentioning the monotonous movement and food, occasionally relieved by trading with the friendly native Americans for fresh meat and vegetables. There is the almost inevitable death of some of the travelers from disease, for they did not always treat their water properly before drinking it. A few die from accidents.
 Despite the sadness and hardship, the family perseveres, and they establish their new home in Salem and publish a paper called the Guardian-Post. They live the dream that drove so many people to risk their lives and fortunes in a perilous trek halfway across the continent.
This book is an excellent way to introduce the facts of the Oregon trail to young people. While the precise events may not have taken place for a family named Weston, similar events took place in the lives of many families.

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