241. If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon

If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon by Ellen Levine. illustrated by Elroy Freem.

Pages: 79 pgs.
Ages: 7+
Finished: Nov. 27, 2009
First Published: 1986, (new & updated, 2006)
Genre: children, non-fiction, history
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

One hundred and fifty years ago there was no railroad that went all across the country.

Reason for Reading: read aloud to the 9yo as part of our history curriculum.

Acquired: We own this book.

Comments: Presented in a question and answer format this book tells of daily life for the people who crossed the American West travelling the Oregon Trail in the 1840s. The questions start out with "What was the Oregon Territory?" and each subsequent question follows in a natural order from the previous. The book is very thorough and covers pretty much anything a kid could want to know from how they crossed rivers to how they made butter to what the children did all day long. The answers are written as if speaking directly to the reader and have both a sense of humour and amazement making history fun and interesting. The illustrations, which were replaced in 1992, are wonderful bright realistic watercolours. The 9yo really enjoyed this book. I also found this to be a great entry in the "If You" series.


  1. Followed your link through Semicolon and WOW - I didn't realize they were reprinting these books. I have the original copy of this one and am always looking to find more from the series. I loved these books growing up and I am looking forward to sharing them with my own kids.

    These are some great books and I'm glad you highlighted this one!

  2. Yes, I really like this series too. I even remember some from when I was a kid in the 70s! I've reviewed three others, so far. They were about different Indian tribes as we did the first half of North American history last year and we've got one more coming up later this year. They are perfect for getting a detailed look at a specific topic without going overboard; just right for the elementary ages.

  3. I have this book but haven't read it to my girls (ages 5 & 4) yet because I'm waiting until they're a little older. I really think it will be a hit, though, because they LOVE Little House on the Prairie, etc.


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