The Crossing

Donna Jo Napoli, Author, Jim Madsen, Illustrator
Donna Napoli, illus. by Jim Madsen. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-9474-9
Reviewed on: 04/25/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 256 pages - 978-1-4424-3548-3
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Through the eyes of baby Jean Baptiste, carried on his mother's back, Napoli (Mama Miti) tells the story of Shoshoni woman Sacagawea's 16-month voyage with pioneers Lewis and Clark from North Dakota to Missouri and back in search of a water passage to the west. Short, poetic descriptions of the landscape and journey ("We paddle/ against the current/ till Bia' points/ at Beaverhead Rock,/ her childhood home at last") close with onomatopoetic phrases that refer to the many animals they meet during the journey: ("Whoop, whoop,/ men dance,/ slip, slip,/ ermines race/ in my dreams." Madsen's (Family Huddle) full-bleed full- and half-spread digital artwork is rendered in warm, earthy hues, shot through with tiny, crackling lines that give the images an aura of old oil paintings. He depicts the changing seasons, modes of transportation (sailboat, canoe, horses), countryside, lodging (teepees, forts), and animal life (cougars, elk, goats, owls) the travelers encounter, readily conveying the majesty and geographic biodiversity of the American west. A refreshing new angle on a familiar story of American history. Ages 4–8. (June)
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