My Name is America
The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds:
The Donner Party Expedition

The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds: The Donner Party Expedition (My Name is America series)
by Rodman Philbrick

One of the most gripping and tragic survival stories in American history is now the subject of a My Name is America book. The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds starts off full of excitement and optimism. In fact, young Douglas's first words in his journal are, "Today I embark on a great journey." 

And surely that is how the other members of the Donner Party felt as they left Independence, Missouri on the pioneer trail to their new lives in California.

The leaders of the group--Mr. Reed and Mr. Donner--had not made the journey themselves, but they had a lot of faith in their guidebook--The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California--which explained every step of the way and even offered a new shorter route that would shave weeks off their journey.

The journal is written by Douglas, a  young orphan boy who is warmly welcomed by the families of the party. A courageous and likeable character, Douglas describes the joys and hardships the group encounters en route, and then records--in gripping detail--the series of tragedies that begin to unfold.

Note: I do not wish to include spoilers, but I must include this word of warning. (Plus, most people know the true story upon which this journal is based.) When the group becomes trapped in the snowy Sierras and face death by starvation, they resort to cannibalism. Although no graphic details are included in the book, please consider this when recommending this book. Just so you know. :)

Interest Level:      Grade 5-8
Reading Level:     age 9-12
D.R.A. Level:       Level 40
Lexile Measure:   Level 920L