The Journey of York: The Unsung Hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

illus. by Alleanna Harris. 40p. glossary. Capstone. Jan. 2019. Tr $17395. ISBN 9781543512823.
Gr 3–6—The subject of this outstanding story was the only person on the three-year Lewis and Clark expedition who did not volunteer for the task. As an enslaved man belonging to Captain William Clark known only as "York," the story of this extraordinary member of the party has gone relatively untold. Readers will find a fresh perspective on this exploration through York's unexpected contributions, and despair at his return to bondage at the end of the journey. Indigenous people he interacted with came to trust in him as a communicator. A turning point in his story came when the chief of the Hidatsa, wary of white men, treated York with respect, who he dubbed "Big Medicine." His reputation as a non-white member of the group benefited the explorers, allowing them to be welcomed by a variety of indigenous groups. Readers are treated to a personal perspective on slavery and exploration by an author and illustrator who are #ownvoices. Great care was clearly given to historical accuracy—the expedition interacted with dozens of Native American Nations, and the writing and images reflect respectful research. In addition to a compelling story with bold illustrations, endnotes reveal careful consultation with historical experts.
VERDICT This will be a great addition to collections where students are required to study explorers, but the story is gripping enough to become a welcome component of a rich nonfiction collection.

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