After listening to Allan Wolf's wonderful The Watch That Ends the Night, about the Titanic, I ordered a copy of his now-out-of-print New Found Land, a similar novel-in-(free-)verse, but this time about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Like the former, New Found Land uses the alternating voices of twelve members of the Corps of Discovery, as well as President Jefferson and Lewis' dog Seaman, to narrate the story.
While not packing quite the emotional punch of the tragedy of the Titanic, this was still a wonderful read. The title is a play on words, as Seaman was of the Newfoundland breed. He is the omniscient narrator in this book, and is called Oolum, supposedly his private or "true" name. And like The Watch, I found myself most drawn to the less-famous characters, such as young George Shannon and carpenter Patrick Gass. Quotations from the letters and journal entries of Meriweather Lewis and William Clark are used in many cases for their voicings. Maps at the beginning of each of the seven sections of the book help orient the reader to the locations mentioned in the novel.
As with The Watch, Wolf did extensive research for this novel, documented in 22 pages at the end of the book, including what became of his 14 narrators. His website also includes a curriculum guide. Due to the length of the book (478 pages without the notes at the end), I think it would be most appropriate for older students, although the free verse used in most of the novel makes it easier to read than most books of this length.
© Amanda Pape - 2013
[I purchased this book and will be adding it to my university library's collection.]