Cover image for Lewis & papa : adventure on the Santa Fe Trail
Lewis & papa : adventure on the Santa Fe Trail
Joosse, Barbara M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Chronicle Books, 1998.
Physical Description:
31 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
While accompanying his father on the wagon train along the Santa Fe Trail, Lewis discovers what it is to be a man.
Reading Level:
AD 600 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 3.3 0.5 21182.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.5 2 Quiz: 13817 Guided reading level: O.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Lewis and his family live in a sturdy, stone house along the Wisconsin River. One day, a traveler happens by and spins stories about the Santa Fe Trail. And so begins Lewis and Papa's adventure. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American West, Barbara Joosse, too, spins a gripping tale about fathers and sons; courage and tenderness; about the coming of age of a nation and the coming of age of a boy. For along the Santa Fe Trail, Lewis and Papa find more than an adventure. Amidstthe buffalo stampedes and coyotes, the dark clouds of dust and heat, Lewis learns that being a man is more than bulging muscles and strength, and Papa learns that being tender is sometimes the most courageous act of all. Historically accurate details, illustrated maps, and a glossary of terms make this richly illustrated, poignant tale a coming of age story that will stir the minds and hearts of readers.

Author Notes

Barbara Joosse is a full-time writer and mother. She lives with her family in a little stone house in Wisconsin. Ms. Joosse has a degree in journalism, but for the past 19 years she has devoted her time and talents to writing nearly twenty books for childr

Jon Van Zyle is the official artist of both the Iditarod Sled Dog race and the International Federation of Sled Dog Sports. His posters and lithographs are prized by collectors. Mr. Van Zyle and his wife, Charlotte, live in Alaska, where they maintain a do

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-4, younger for reading aloud. In an unsubtle companion to Joosse's Mama, Do You Love Me? (1991), young Lewis and his Papa set out across the Great Plains on a wagon-train journey with a load of dry goods, facing privation, a difficult river crossing, a waterless desert, stampeding buffalo, and other dangers in hopes of making "a pretty penny." Along the way, Lewis not only proves that he can work both hard and smart, just like a grown-up, but he also learns from his father that there's no shame in either feeling scared or shedding tears, so long as a man does what he has to do. In large, roughly brushed paintings, Van Zyle portrays people and prairie from, often, unusual points of view, such as very close-up or directly overhead, adding occasional inset maps and leaving a jagged, hidelike border along one side for the text. After an explicit summing up ("Lewis and Papa . . . took the trail together. They dreamed under the stars and were thirsty under the sun"), Joosse appends a brief history of the Santa Fe Trail and a personal statement about the story's meaning for her and for the illustrator. Readers who aren't swept off their feet by the tale's broad sentimentality may be nonetheless touched by the masculine camaraderie and hugging--and the well-articulated historical context makes an intriguing lagniappe. --John Peters

Publisher's Weekly Review

Joosse (Mama, Do You Love Me?) embarks on a rambling road as she follows a 19th-century father and son traveling from their home by the Wisconsin River to Santa Fe, where they plan to sell their wagonful of goods from the East. Despite the obvious research here, the historical elements seem secondary to the emotional content of both the story and the paintings. Lewis struggles with homesickness and fears (of animal noises in the night, stampeding buffalo, etc.), though he makes his father proud when he devises a strategy for crossing the Arkansas River and strives to be brave ("He wanted to be a man Papa would be proud of‘a man who didn't cry‘so he pushed his tears inside"). Papa says and does all the right things, snuggling up with his son under the night sky and reassuring him that there's no shame in feeling scared or in shedding tears. The deepening bond between the two surfaces repeatedly, and somewhat repetitiously, in Van Zyle's (The Eyes of Gray Wolf) images of father and son together amid purplish Western landscapes. Insets on most spreads key the action to a locale on the Sante Fe Trail, mapped on the endpapers; frustratingly, the Wisconsin River‘Lewis's starting point‘is omitted. A self-congratulatory note at the end, in which Joosse refers to her collaboration with Van Zyle as a "picture book marriage... made in heaven," oversweetens this sentimental volume. Ages 4-8. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-In this moving picture book, a father and son journey across the Santa Fe Trail to make their fortune. Their wagon is filled with goods that they will sell when they reach their destination. Their adventures are recounted in a straightforward narrative and the simple prose underscores the drama of the situations they confront. Together they battle physical and emotional hardships and in the process discover one another's strengths and vulnerabilities. The book ends, "And so it was that Papa taught Lewis to be a man...and Lewis taught Papa. And that was the real fortune." The evocative oil paintings, which cover two-thirds of each double-page spread, reflect a sense of history as well as the richness of the story. The text is printed on brown-tinted backgrounds that resemble aged paper. In addition to the endpaper maps that show the Santa Fe Trail in its entirety, occasional spot maps pinpoint locations and mark the pair's progress throughout the narrative. Historical notes and a glossary are appended. The exciting story, strong father/son bond, positive portrayals of males as resilient and sensitive, and striking illustrations come together to create a memorable work. This is sure to find a wide and appreciative audience.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.