June 2011 Issue
May 23, 2011

Check it out: Journey to Nowhere

Author: Mary Jane Auch
Source: NYSUT United
Journey to Nowhere bookcover

Recommended by: Molly Manning Clark, elementary school librarian, Oswego Classroom Teacher's Association

Suitable for: Grade 4.

Why I chose this book: Fourth-grade teachers can use Journey to Nowhere to supplement their social studies curriculum. The novel is the story of Remembrance "Mem" Nye and her family as they set off in a covered wagon from their farm in Connecticut to settle in the "wilderness" of western New York in 1815. Mem and her mother see it as a journey to nowhere since there won't be any houses or neighbors, just endless forest. At one point during the journey, Mem is unexpectedly separated from her family, and she must face every danger alone while hoping to find her family again.

What I like best: The fast-paced writing style will maintain a reader's interest. The voice of young Mem will resonate with readers as she expresses her doubts and fears about her father's decision to move and leave behind all that is familiar. Any child who has lived through a move will relate to Mem's fear of the unknown.

How teachers can use this book: The adventure story will keep students interested and includes a map of the journey that allows readers to follow along. Because the journey takes readers across much of the state and the author uses the names of real towns and villages, many readers will be familiar with locations in the story. Teachers could use Google Earth to supplement the printed map and compare present day locales to the descriptions in the book. Follow-up stories in the series describe the building of the Erie Canal for those who want to follow Mem's journey further.

"Check it Out" features books recommended to teachers and parents by school librarians.