Booklist: Westward Ho!

Oregon or Bust!
It’s that time of year again…the fifth grade is studying the Oregon Trail (and virtually traveling it.)  So if you want a book about traveling on the Oregon, Mormon, Bozeman, or Santa Fe Trails, homesteading, or settling on the frontier, experience the adventure through one of these great titles!

Psst…kids!  If, during your Oregon Trail assignment, you’ve been virtually bitten by a snake, lost a wagon wheel, had your cattle eat loco weed, broken an arm or had any other wagon train accidents…the library is the place to come to figure out a solution!

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Couloumbis, Audrey. The Misadventures of Maude March, or, Trouble Rides a Fast Horse
Sallie March is a whip-smart tomboy and voracious reader of Western adventure novels. When she and her sister, Maude, are orphaned for the second time, they decide to escape their new self-serving guardians for the wilds of the frontier and an adventure the likes of which Sallie has only read about. This time, however, the wanted woman isn’t a villain out of a dime novel–it’s Sallie’s very own sister! Narrated by the irrepressible Sallie, what follows is the rollicking story of what really happened out there on the range. Not the lies the papers printed, but the honest-to-goodness truth of how things went from bad to worse and how two very different sisters went from being orphans to being outlaws–and lived to tell the tale!

Fleischman, Sid. Mr. Mysterious & Company
Mr. Mysterious and his company (otherwise known as the Hackett family)  are a traveling magic show making its way on the frontier trails across the country toward California. When this family passes through town in their brightly painted wagon, anything can happen–even the capture of a notorious bandit, the Badlands Kid!

Hahn, Mary Downing. The Gentleman Outlaw and Me–Eli
Eliza Yates cuts her hair, changes her clothes, and heads West to find her missing father. Soon after she meets Calvin Featherbone  (aka the Gentleman Outlaw)  who has been shot and left for dead by a pack of scoundrels. Together, they make their way to Tinville, Colorado, where Calvin plans to avenge his father, who was killed by the town sheriff.  Calvin plans to avenge the murder, but he gets himself and Eliza in so much trouble with his amateurish schemes that the pair arrives in town ready to be hanged as horse thieves by Sheriff…Yates?  Uh-oh!

Karr, Kathleen. Go West, Young Women!
Sleeping under a wagon, eating moldy beans, and driving oxen through a dusty desert—nobody ever said the Oregon Trail was going to be like this! But just when Phoebe Brown is sure she can’t stand another day of her father and the other bossy male members of the wagon train, tragedy strikes. Suddenly, it is up to the women to decide: should they turn back to the life they left behind or push for Oregon on their own steam? For this spunky group of lady pioneers the answer is clear. They’re going to change Manifest Destiny into WOmanifest Destiny—no matter what it takes!  This book is the first in a fun–and funny–trilogy.

Lawlor, Laurie. American Sisters 1864: Crossing the Colorado Rockies
As the Civil War rages, the Hitchcocks head West toward the Rocky Mountains and Pike’s Peak.  Eda keeps a journal as they travel through hostile country and take shelter in a broken-down cabin. Unaccustomed to roughing it, everything seems strange and frightening to the Hitchcock girls. But as they travel, they meet near-tragedy. Penniless and freezing, they’re herded into a tent city with nothing left but a few clothes and tattered memories. Eda’s certain they’ll never escape. That’s when she meets an “enemy” who teaches her the most important lesson she’ll ever learn….

Lawlor, Laurie. He Will Go Fearless
Billy runs away from his Missouri home, hoping to make his way across the Great Plains in order to find his father in Virginia City. Before crossing the Missouri River to embark on his journey, two cunning travelers steal Billy’s savings, then hire him as an ox-driver on a team headed with supply wagons for Montana.  Across miles of arid plains, wild rivers, and steep mountains, Billy struggles to get his unruly oxen through hostile country that conceals Chief Red Cloud’s warriors as well as armed highwaymen. Billy’s rite of passage challenges everything he knows about survival and loss, reconciliation and discovery.

McGraw, Eloise Jarvis. Moccasin Trail
Jim Keath has lived for six years as a Crow Indian when he learns that his sister and two younger brothers are journeying west to take up land. Although Jim finds it difficult to fit in with the family he hasn’t seen since childhood, and although they are wary of him, he feels his duty is at their side. But as they survive the dangerous trek west, the perils of frontier life, and the danger to their youngest brother, Jim and his family realize the only way to survive the journey to Oregon is to accept each other and work together.

McKernan, Victoria. The Devil’s Paintbox
Aiden and Maddy Lynch have barely survived a brutal winter alone on the remains of their family’s drought-ravaged Kansas farm when an unlikely savior appears one morning.  Jefferson Jackson is looking for strong men to work, not a half-starved teenager with a useless girl in tow, but somehow the pair convinces him to let them join his wagon train. It is a chance at a new life for Aiden and Maddy, but one that is two thousand rough and perilous miles away. Aiden soon learns that the greatest dangers go beyond storms, stampedes, and rattlesnakes. When smallpox, “the devil’s paint,” threatens an Indian community Aiden has befriended, his loyalties, wits, and courage are severely tested.

Morrow, Honore. On to Oregon!
John Sager loves the exciting life of a pioneer, even if he’s always getting in trouble on the wagon train for wriggling out of his chores. But before long, his adventure seems more like a nightmare. When John’s parents die along the trail,  he and his younger brother and five sisters are determined to reach Oregon and their father’s dream of land. The wagon train doesn’t want children without parents though, so the Sagers have to make it on their own. With unfriendly Indians and dangerous passes at every turn, will the Sager children make through the perils that lie ahead?

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Not REALLY Oregon Trail books, but close…

Bell, Cathleen Davitt. Little Blog on the Prairie
Gen’s mom signs the family up for Camp Frontier—a vacation that promises the “thrill” of living like 1890s pioneers. However, no one knew that they’d be forced to give up all modern possessions–from jeans and sneakers to i-pods and makeup. Gen manages to smuggle in her cell phone and email her friends about her prairie experience.  What she doesn’t know is that they’re turning her horrible experience into a blog.  But just when it seems Gen and family might pull through the summer, a TV crew descends on the camp, intent on discovering the girl behind the nationwide blogging sensation—and perhaps ruining the best vacation Gen has ever had. Can she pull her family (and the rest of the “pioneers”) back together?

Gilson, Jamie. Wagon Train 911
Five-foot-ten-inch tall Dinah is less than thrilled when Mr. Marconi “marries” her to her much shorter classmate Orin for the fifth-grade wagon train project.  Not only that, they have to pretend he’s a doctor and she’s his pregnant wife, riding a wagon train west with a bunch of bossy companions (actually their annoying classmates).  Dinah, Orin, and the rest of Wagon Train Seven are assigned a two-week journey along the Oregon Trail. But Wagon Train Seven can’t seem to get anywhere without a frontier flare-up. Can this really be how the West was won?

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We do have a much longer booklist available called Westward Ho!  (Click on the link to see the longer list.)



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