HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Pioneers Go West
Author: George R. Stewart
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books, reissued in 1987
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Grades 4 and above
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Stewart, George R. The Pioneers Go West (originally published in 1954 as To California by Covered Wagon and republished in 2002, by Random House). This is one of the excellent “Landmark Books” from Random House, of which Rob Shearer of Greenleaf Press wrote, “Over fifty years ago, Random House began a series of historical books for young readers. Eventually 122 of the Landmark books were published, along with 63 in the World Landmark series. The best authors of the day were commissioned to write books on important historical topics. The texts are clear, action-packed, with wonderful historical narrative and biographical detail. Sadly, Random House has let all but a handful go out of print. Within the past five years, Random House has begun to revive the imprint and has new titles.” They are obviously reprinting some as well. We have a couple of older Landmark books and three of the newer ones, and they are all excellent.
The Pioneers Go West by George R. Stewart was one of the history-related books that my wife Karen purchased at a homeschooling convention one year for our older son Mark to read. It was originally published as To California by Covered Wagon in 1954 and was republished in 2002. The book tells the story of the Elisha Stevens party which travelled from Missouri to California by covered wagon beginning in 1844 and was the very first to make it safely across the mountains with their wagons. It is based on the account written by one of the members, eighteen-year old Moses Schallenberger, which he wrote in 1885, forty years later and was reproduced in the book Pen Pictures by Horace S. Foote. As a result, the primary focus of the story is on Moses and what happens to him. The book is well written, extremely interesting, and filled with fascinating detail, yet on a level that even younger children can understand. I highly recommend it for studying about this period of history.