Cover image for The journal of Douglas Allen Deeds : the Donner Party expedition
Title:
The journal of Douglas Allen Deeds : the Donner Party expedition
Author:
Philbrick, W. R. (W. Rodman)
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
155 pages ; 20 cm.
Summary:
Douglas Deeds, a fifteen-year-old orphan, keeps a journal of his travels by wagon train as a member of the ill-fated Donner Party, which became stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846-47.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
920 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.7 4.0 55208.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.7 9 Quiz: 25903 Guided reading level: S.
ISBN:
9780439216005
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Douglas Deeds, a fifteen-year-old orphan, keeps a journal of his travels by wagon train as a member of the ill-fated Donner Party, which became stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846-47.


Author Notes

"I started writing when I was about 12," Rodman Philbrick recalls. Now he is an award-winning author of more than 20 books for both adult and young adult readers. His widely acclaimed young adult novel, Freak the Mighty, was made into a movie, The Mighty. Before finding success as a writer, Philbrick, who is from Boston, worked as a carpenter, boat builder, and longshoreman. "I kept writing because that was the only thing I really wanted to do," he says. He and his wife, Lynn Harnett - with whom he has collaborated on a number of novels for young readers - divide their time between Maine and the Florida Keys. For more information about Rodman Philbrick, visit: scholastic.com/tradebooks and rodmanphilbrick.com


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-7. Using the diary format the My Name Is America series is known for, Philbrick recreates the events of the ill-fated Donner party through the eyes of Douglas Deeds, a 15-year-old orphan. Deeds recounts the jockeying for power between greenhorn organizers George Donner and James Reed; the leaders' dogmatic reliance on a poorly researched travel guide; and the series of bad decisions that culminated in the group's being stranded without food for the winter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Philbrick shows the action rather than merely telling about it, but he deals discreetly with the issue of cannibalism, sending Douglas off crying into the forest as the others prepare to "take advantage of what has been provided." What has taken place will still be clear to most readers. This is historical fiction that will spark discussions about both ethics and leadership. --Kay Weisman


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-"Today I embark on a great journey." This initial, optimistic entry in a 15-year-old orphan's journal exemplifies the Donner Party's hopes for a new and better life in California. Although he knows that James Reed and George Donner lack experience in such an endeavor as a trek west, Deeds believes in the men. He describes the many difficulties encountered on the journey, including river crossings, poor roads, and fear of Native Americans. Little by little, the hardships increase-members of the group die from illness or injury, and the number of wagons dwindles. The decision to use the Hasting "shortcut" proves deadly. Trapped in the snow and facing starvation, the Donner Party is transformed from a group of cooperative and generous people into one plagued by suspicion and selfishness, resorting even to cannibalism (no graphic details). In the epilogue, readers are told that Deeds and his friend Edward Breen were among the first to discover gold in California. Using actual events and characters, this fictional journal brings a tragic story to life, showing the changes in people brought about by incredible hardships. A selection of archival photographs is included.-Lana Miles, Duchesne Academy, Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.