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Lewis and Clark and Me

LEWIS AND CLARK AND ME
Laurie Myers, Author
Michael Dooling, Illustrator

Ages: 7-10
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Laurie Myers

Laurie Myers has written several novels for children. The ideas for her books come from things in her own life. When she had an ant farm she wrote Earthquake in the Third Grade. When she had a guinea pig she wrote Guinea Pigs Don't Talk. And when her son took karate classes she wrote Surviving Brick Johnson. She comes from a writing family. Her mother (Betsy Byars) and her sister (Betsy Duffey) also write children's books. Last year they wrote their first book together, My Dog, My Hero. She lives in Augusta, Georgia with her husband and several pets.

LEARN MORE:
PBS - Lewis and Clark Classroom Resources

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Author Laurie Myers Talks About LEWIS AND CLARK AND ME

ETC:  How did you become interested in Lewis and Clark?

Myers:  I read the book Undaunted Courage which is the story of Meriwether Lewis and the expedition. I was fascinated by the whole adventure - the excitement, the danger, the hardship, the teamwork and the accomplishment. Also, as I read the book I became interested in Seaman and his experience on the trip. He was very much a part of the team, experiencing the hardships as well as the victories.

ETC:  Is that why you wrote the book from Seaman's point of view?

Myers:  Yes. I was fascinated by the close relationship that Seaman had with Meriwether Lewis. I've had many dogs over the years and I've been closer to some than others. I saw in Seaman and Lewis a unique closeness that I wanted to express in the story.

ETC:  What was Seaman's relationship with the other team members?

Myers:  I think everyone on that trip was close, including Seaman. After all, that small group spent 2 years together, helping each other through incredible circumstances. They faced death together as they crossed the mountains in the winter. They experienced overwhelming joy when they finally saw the Pacific Ocean. It was 2 years of amazing experiences almost every day.

ETC:  I read a book that called him Scannon. Was that his name at one time?

Myers:  For years writers called him Scannon. Then, in 1984 a Lewis and Clark scholar, Donald Jackson, was researching the rivers and streams that Lewis and Clark named. Every name had a meaning except "Seaman's Creek" which was in Montana. Donald Jackson went back to the original drawings and writings and discovered that in Scannon the "c" was actually an "e" and the "nn" was actually an "m" and the "o" was an "a". If you make those changes then the name is Seaman. So, over one hundred years ago someone mistakenly wrote the name as Scannon and it remained that way until the mistake was discovered in 1984.

ETC:  Do you think Seaman was afraid of anything on the trip?

Myers:  I think not. He was fearless.

ETC:  What happened to Seaman?

Myers:  No one knows for sure. The last journal entry that mentions Seaman is in July, 1806, which was 2 months before they arrived back in St. Louis. Most scholars believe that Seaman completed the journey and then lived on with Lewis.

ETC:  Did the book require any special research?

Myers:  The research for this book was such fun. Not only did I read lots of great books on the expedition, including the journals, but also I went to Montana and visited some of the places where Lewis and Clark traveled. It was fun to stand where Lewis stood and read from his journals the very words he had written about that place. I also went to a reenactment where I watched men make dugout canoes, build bull boats and then ride them in the river, skin beaver, cook over fires, and do many other activities that the expedition members did. All of this helped me to see what life was really like for Lewis and Clark and Seaman.

ETC:  What's your favorite Lewis and Clark book that you read?

Myers:  I enjoy most reading the actual journals written by Lewis and Clark and the others. They were great writers and their journals are filled with vivid descriptions of the beauty, the wildlife and the adventures they encountered.

ETC:  The bicentennial is coming up for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Are you going to be involved?

Myers:  I do plan to be involved. There are lots of activities and celebrations planned all across the United States. The first activity is January 2003 at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia. I hope to attend that. There will be a traveling Lewis and Clark museum there. I look forward to seeing the museum and hope lots of people across the United States will have an opportunity to visit the museum as it travels across our country.

There are plans for people to recreate the entire route of the expedition carrying small American flags as they looked in 1803. Any person can participate and carry a flag on part of the route. I'd like to do that.

ETC:   What do you hope readers will get from this book?

Myers:  I hope they will catch the excitement of this fantastic adventure and want to read more. There is something for everyone in the Lewis and Clark story. There are encounters with wild animals, like wild cats, buffalo and the very dangerous grizzly bear. There are critical points during the trip where life and death decisions are made. There are tense moments with Indians who were hostile and there are fun entertaining times with Indians who were friendly, and Indians who came to their aid just in time. There are all kinds of problems that are solved along the way, like how to get all the canoes and their belongings around the great waterfalls in Montana, and how to get over the mountains, and which river to take, and where to camp, and how to get food during the winter. There were also moments of great drama, like when Sacagewea recognized her brother whom she had not seen in almost ten years. I could go on and on. As I said, there is something for everyone.