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All the Stars in the Sky: The Santa Fe Trail Diary of Florrie Mack Ryder, The Santa Fe Trail, 1848

Review

All the Stars in the Sky: The Santa Fe Trail Diary of Florrie Mack Ryder, The Santa Fe Trail, 1848

Florrie Ryder is having a hard time leaving everything she has ever known behind. Her best friend, her grandparents, and even the grave of her father must all remain in Arrow Rock, Missouri. Florrie, her younger brother Jem, her mother, and her mother's new husband are going to travel down the Santa Fe Trail to begin a new life in New Mexico in the town of Santa Fe. Unlike the Oregon Trail and others that went towards the west coast, the Santa Fe Trail was used mostly by traders rather than by settlers.

Nevertheless, it was still a grueling journey and Florrie witnesses more than her fair share of suffering and hardship. She develops friendships that come to mean a great deal to her and that sustain her. We are drawn into the story as Florrie and her family battle their way down the trail, and we are charmed by Florrie's likable and determined personality. Florrie sees things with a clarity that can be quite startling at times, even to her. For example, she comments early in the journey that she feels lost "like a stick figure drawn in the dust, erased by wagon tracks." Later she remarks, "I am lonely and have fallen under the cloud of my own bad weather."

Written in a style that suggests Florrie's own speech, Megan McDonald has created a wonderful character and has gone to great lengths to study the times and the people she writes about. Her inclusion of Spanish words, as Florrie begins to learn the language, is a particularly effective device. Both sad and at times humorous, Florrie's story provides us with a thought-provoking picture of a time and place not often written about.

Reviewed by Marya Jansen-Gruber on September 1, 2003

All the Stars in the Sky: The Santa Fe Trail Diary of Florrie Mack Ryder, The Santa Fe Trail, 1848
(Dear America #11)
by Megan McDonald

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2003
  • Hardcover: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN-10: 0439169631
  • ISBN-13: 9780439169639