Molly Marches On

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Susan McAliley, Nick Backes, Philip Hood, or Keith Skeen


Molly, Linda, and Susan have just arrived at summer camp. It's the first time they've ever gone, and they're really enjoying it so far. Now it's time for the new camper hike, which culminates in some sort of wonderful surprise. All the "old" campers talk about the surprise wistfully. Molly and her friends can hardly wait to see what it is.

But the morning of the hike, Molly quickly finds herself in a sour mood. She recently read a book about Sacagawea, and idolizes the heroine. She wants to move swiftly and silently through the woods, relying on her wits to guide her. But the other campers, and the counselor leading them, crash loudly through the trail and following the marked signs along the way. Hardly an adventure. So when the counselor splits the group into to teams so they can race to the surprise, Molly goes off on her own. Susan follows her, intent on keeping her from danger. After an hour, the girls are lost. And thirsty. Susan's finished her water, and the leather pouch Molly kept hers in (because Sacagawea would never have used a metal canteen) leaked. Molly uses some of the tricks she read about to find water, and the girls find a stream that empties in a beautiful calm pool. The girls rest for a bit in the serene setting.

Soon they decide they need to get back to camp. Just as they're deciding the best way to get un-lost, the other hikers find them. The counselor scolds them for wandering off, but also tells no one else has ever seen the pond before, and lets them name it (naturally, after Sacagawea). While all the hikers swim in the pond, Molly and Susan ask Linda about the surprise. Linda confirms that the hikers found it, but now of course they're sworn to secrecy and she can't reveal what the surprise was!

Looking Back

Here we get a summary of Lewis and Clark's journey across the newly-acquired Louisiana Purchase in the early 1800s. The Corps of Discovery set off in May 1804. They hired a French fur trapper to help guide them and to aid in translating with the native tribes they would encounter. But more valuable to their success was his wife, Sacagawea. She was actually from the area that would later become Idaho (she'd been kidnapped years before), and knew a lot about traveling the area. The fact that the exploration party had a woman--and her baby son--with it helped alleviate any concerns that the peoples the group encounter might have had. Even better, when the group reached her native land, it just so happened that the chief of the tribe was her brother! Soon after, the Corps found themselves near the Pacific, but with winter coming on strong they were undecided whether to camp and wait or strike out for the coast. Everyone except the year-old baby voted, including Sacagawea and York, a slave. This was before either African-Americans or women had the right to vote.

Without Sacagawea's help, it's doubtful that the Lewis and Clark expedition would have reach the Pacific. They arrived safely in January 1806, and made it back to St. Louis, MO that September. The only person to die on the trip succumbed to appendicitis in 1804.


It's a good idea to make noise as you wander through the woods: scares off bears and other predators.

There are more monuments in the US dedicated to Sacagawea than any other woman in American history (at least, as of 2006).

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