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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Kristiana Gregory


Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell, 1847
by Kristiana Gregory
Dear America Diary Series
Unabridged, 3 hr. 30 min.
Barbara Rosenblat and Stina Neilson (Narrator)
August 2009

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Source: Downloaded the audio from my local library

“After the death of her two sisters, thirteen-year-old Hattie and her family plan for a fresh start. They sell their farm in Missouri and journey along the Oregon Trail toward Oregon City. At first the adventure is exciting, but as the days, weeks, and months pass, Hattie realizes what a dangerous trip it is. As they cross the prairies, news of the fate of the Donner party reaches them, and death, disease, weather, and the terrain take a terrible toll on their traveling party. The Campbells lose neighbors and friends until they almost cannot bear to continue. Yet Hattie and her family must persevere or risk the same misfortune. Hattie`s diary chronicles the hardships of such a harrowing journey, but also captures the friendships and celebrations of life that keep hope alive.”

I think that this will live on as one of my favorite books in this extensive series. It brought back all of my childhood memories of playing the very first Oregon Trail game! Do you remember fording the Blue River, oxen dying, eating poisonous plants, breaking an axle? I do! All that and much more takes place in the diary of Hattie Campbell.

One of the great strengths of this book is the emotions that are evoked. Westward travel was certainly not easy. There were moments of terror, sadness, happiness, and hope – they were all here. I also thought that they played the in-between world of not quite a child and not quite an adult very well. It felt real when she didn’t fully understand some of the decisions being made and she and she didn’t have that frustrating quality to knowing all even though she is only 13.

I also really liked how historical events were peppered through the diary but not fully explained. It wouldn’t be normal for someone to go on and on about the back story of the Donner party, but that event would certainly have made it into their diaries and affected some of the choices that they made. Rest assured though, there is a lengthy historical note at the end where all of these mentioned historical events are more thoroughly explained.



Another well narrated outing in the series. Again they selected a young sounding voice actress who fit the character role. She also evoked the highly emotional scenes well.

Kristiana Gregory also has written several other books in the Dear America series.  You can visit the Scholastic website for additional information about the book and activities to do with your children and recipes to make.

My other reviews of books in this series:

Other reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Replies
    1. It is such a wonderful series, I'm glad they are re-printing them.


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