A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The author includes a note at the end of her book describing Jean Baptiste's journey with his mother Sacagawea and Lewis and Clark. Parents and teachers should consider reading this part of the book aloud to kids first so they can better understand Jean Baptiste's amazing story.
Readers will appreciate America's natural beauty -- and extreme and sometimes harsh diversity -- captured both by the poetic text and striking illustrations.
Positive Role Models
Jean Baptiste and his mother, Sacagawea, are described in the author's note as "helping the pioneers Meriweather Lewis and William Clark find a passage to the west coast," which also details a time where Sacagawea's quick thinking and bravery saved the journey. Indeed, the book's pictures show her to be both a useful guide and a loving mother.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is the story of Lewis and Clark's journey as imagined from the perspective of Sacagawea's infant son. The author includes a note at the end of her book describing their journey historically. Parents and teachers should consider reading this part of the book aloud to kids first so they can better understand Jean Baptiste's amazing story. This is a book probably best read aloud, even to elementary students: Kids will better appreciate the language, art, and story when shared this way.
Is It Any Good?
This is a book best shared aloud. Older kids will appreciate Napoli's poetic narrative best after first hearing the author's note at the back of the book and understanding the context; younger audiences may just like to hear the sound of her vivid words: "Red cedars brush the air./ Eagles float/ in clouds and blue/ of a never-ending, sun-drenched sky,/ bleaching the cliffs white./Scream, hiss!/ Cougars prowl in my dreams."
Madsen's illustrations are a good match for the tone of the story and its subject matter: His pictures have both a warm and historical quality about them, whether showing members of Lewis & Clark's party carefully burning trees to make dugouts, or gathered around a campfire, translating each other's stories as "quick tongues make friends."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.