Thursday, February 23, 2017
LDS NONFICTION: Wagons West: Brigham Young and the First Pioneers by Richard E. Turley Jr. & Lael Littke
ABOUT THE BOOK
This simple, clear retelling of the Saints' trek west will help both young and old experience what life was like in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1844 after their beloved Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed.
Hurry with the Saints as they rush to complete their temple while also building wagons and packing supplies for the long journey west. Go with them as they cross the wide Mississippi River and trudge through the mud of Iowa.
Experience their disappointment that they cannot reach the Rocky Mountains before winter comes again, but share their faith that they are being led by a prophet of God. Rejoice with them when spring returns and the first company of pioneers sets out from Winter Quarters.
Look with them in awe at vast herds of shaggy buffalo on the Great Plains. Finally, after crossing the last mountain pass into the Salt Lake Valley, thrill with the Saints that they have reached their new home.
Vintage photos and other engaging illustrations help bring these stories to life in Wagons West: Brigham Young and the First Pioneers.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Lael Littke is the author of more than forty books in both the national and LDS markets. Most of her books are written for children and young adults, including Haunted Sister, Lake of Secrets and Searching for Selene She co-authored Stories from the Life of Joseph Smith with Richard E. Turley, Jr. She also has four women's novels to her credit: Keepers of Blackbird Hill as well as Almost Sisters, Three Tickets to Peoria, and Surprise Packages, co-authored with Carroll Morris and Nancy Anderson. A native of Mink Creek, Idaho, she graduated from Utah State University and did further studies in writing at City College of New York, Pasadena City College, and UCLA. She has taught writing courses at UCLA and Pasadena City College for nearly ten years. Lael lives in Pasadena, California.
Richard E. Turley, Jr., Assistant Church Historian and Recorder for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a member of the editorial board of the Church Historian's Press, which publishes The Joseph Smith Papers and other highly-acclaimed works of Church history. He is the author or co-author of several books, including How We Got the Book of Mormon and How We Got the Doctrine and Covenants, with William W. Slaughter; Massacre at Mountain Meadows, with Ronald W. Walker and Glen M. Leonard; Stories from the Life of Joseph Smith, with Lael Littke; and Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case. In addition, he is the coeditor of the series Women of Faith in the Latter Days, with Brittany A. Chapman, and general editor of the print volumes of The Journals of George Q. Cannon. He and his wife, Shirley, live in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The story of the first Mormon pioneers to reach Utah makes for great reading. This book is intended for younger readers and it works very well in that regard. The text is very readable, divided up into chapters by stages of the journey. I appreciated having a map to follow as the journey progressed. This is some fine narrative nonfiction. The inclusion of photographs as well as illustrations of paintings and other artifacts helped bring the story to life. Another thing I appreciated was the inclusion of the bad with the good. As Saints and pioneers, it's easy to idolize these people and forget that they were human just as we are. Stories of complaining and disagreements, mistakes made, and some plain just rotten days make this story and the people who were a part of it, easier to relate to. And in the end it makes their accomplishments all the more admirable because they had to overcome their own weaknesses as well as the challenges of the journey. With a story like this one, it's easy to become overly generic, but the authors do a good job of integrating individual accounts and experiences into the main narration, giving the reader a peek into specific moments of the journey. For those who hope to help their children understand the purposes and experiences related to this part of Church history, I can highly recommend this book.