Bound for Oregon
Bound for Oregon
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Annotation: A fictionalized account of the journey made by nine-year-old Mary Ellen Todd and her family from their home in Arkansas westward over the Oregon Trail in 1852.
Catalog Number: #4606251
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition Date: 1996
Illustrator: Watling, James,
Pages: 167 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-14-038319-0
ISBN 13: 978-0-14-038319-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 93026709
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Based on the original account of Mary Ellen Todd's Oregon Trail journey, this first-person novel recounts a family's adventures as they travel by covered wagon in 1852. Nine-year-old Mary Ellen narrates the story, which begins with her reluctance to leave Arkansas and her beloved grandma and ends with the family's first Christmas in their new home. Most of the book is a description of life on the road, where the family encounters a little of everything: fear, loss, sickness, sadness, madness, kindness, courage, love, hope, and deliverance. The appealing narrator, the forthright telling, and the concrete details of life along the Oregon Trail will draw readers into the story. In an intriguing afterword, Van Leeuwen offers information on her research and some sidelights on the Todds. A fine, fictional introduction to life on the Oregon Trail. (Reviewed October 1, 1994)
Horn Book
Van Leeuwen's characters are vivid and well rounded in an inspiring fictionalized account of nine-year-old Mary Ellen Todd's 1852 trip on the Oregon Trail. The story is based on Todd's memories as recorded by her daughter in 'On to Oregon! A True Story of a Young Girl's Journey into the West'. The family's trek parallels that of many travelers, except for an attack by Indians--something that most feared but that few actually experienced.
Kirkus Reviews
In this plodding fictionalized account of a real girl's Oregon Trail experience, nine-year-old Mary Ellen Todd heads west in 1852 with her potter father, unemotional stepmother, and two younger sisters. Along the way, she meets up with other families on the Oregon Trail, encounters both hostile and friendly Indians, and suffers from disease and hunger. Mary Ellen's first-person narration hews to a child's perspective of the journey. Before starting out from Arkansas, she talks of her sadness in leaving her grandmother, who is too old to make the arduous trip, and of her own fear of the unknown. But once the family decides to go, she is uncomplaining and even eager to leave. Along the way she bears more responsibility than ever before, is often bored and occasionally frightened. But when she sees beautiful Oregon, she feels that she is finally home. One can't help but compare Van Leeuwen's (Two Girls in Sister Dresses, p. 709, etc.) story to Laura Ingalls Wilder's books and be disappointed at the lack of detail. Mary Ellen describes so little of the day-to-day workings of the trip that, except for the wagons, this might as well be a cross- country Winnebago junket. Westward ho-hum. (Historical Fiction. 8-12)"
Publishers Weekly
In a starred review of this fact-based tale of nine-year-old Mary Ellen and her family's dramatic 1852 journey along the Oregon Trail, PW said, """"The contrast between the tenderness of Mary Ellen's perceptions and the hardships of the frontier is deeply moving."""" Ages 8-12. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Adding details about events and people to an account of Mary Ellen Todd's 2,000-mile trek from Arkansas to Oregon in the 1850s as written down by Todd's daughter, Van Leeuwen has created a historical novel told in the voice of a 10-year-old child. The story begins with the preparations and the difficulty of leaving home and family. It chronicles the hardships the family encountered: raging rivers to cross, bad weather, sickness and death, limited food, and the constant push to beat the first snows of winter. There are also small pleasures, including the birth of a brother. Readers will see how choices made often make the difference between success or failure, life or death. Characterizations are well done, showing the varying personalities of people on the trail. For example, the determination and faith of the father are shown consistently as the basis for his actions. This is a convincing picture of a pioneer journey that does a good job of showing the tremendous sacrifices people made to follow their dream of a better life.-Jane Gardner Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia
Word Count: 42,065
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: 2-5
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 10897 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.1 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q01486
Lexile: 830L
Guided Reading Level: S
Fountas & Pinnell: S

"Basing her story on the published accounts of her true-life heroine, Mary Ellen Todd, Van Leeuwen describes a family's tumultuous journey along the Oregon Trail in 1852." --Publishers Weekly

With only a guide book to show them the way, the Todd family sets out from their Arkansas home on a two thousand mile trek to claim unchartered Oregon Territory. Crossing rough terrain and encountering hostile people, the Todds show their true pioneering spirit. But as winter draws near, will the Todds have the strength to complete their journey? And if they make it, will Oregon fulfill their dreams?

“This is a convincing picture of a pioneer journey that does a good job of showing the tremendous sacrifices people made to follow their dream of a better life.” –School Library Journal

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