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Heading West: Life with the Pioneers - 21 Activities    by Pat McCarthy order for
Heading West
by Pat McCarthy
Order:  USA  Can
Chicago Review Press, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Deb Kincaid

Pat McCarthy's Heading West is an immensely readable book. The author's exuberance is evident on every page. Sections are just the right length to grab and maintain a preteen's interest, and are chock full of facts, anecdotes, and photos. The book covers the period of American pioneer history from just before the French and Indian war to the end of Alaska homesteading (1752-1986).

While the thrust of the story is the move of intrepid citizens from the crowded East to the beckoning West, so much other history played contributory roles. For instance, the scouting of the lands of the Louisiana Purchase by Lewis and Clark, the Transcontinental Railroad, the Mormon exodus from Illinois, and plagues of grasshoppers are some of the topics explored in McCarthy's book. I found the discussion of occupations intriguing, everything from coopers to cobblers.

More than twenty activities are included, with instructions and materials lists, and illustrated for ease of use. Some activities are making apple butter, a how-to for an old-fashioned taffy pull, and mapping the trails of the pioneers. The narrative, photos, and activities will bring the pioneer experience to life for children. Heading West would be an excellent choice for home and school libraries, and a welcome reference for middle-grade teachers.

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