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The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party

by Marian Calabro

On April 14, 1846, the Donner Party set out from Springfield, Illinois, in search of a better life in the largely unsettled California territory. The trip started well but eventually questionable choices and infighting delayed the pioneers' attempt to cross the Sierra Nevada until winter. As the impassable snows closed in and their supplies dwindled to nothing, the group faced an almost hopeless struggle for survival that would push some toward the final taboo of cannibalism. Nearly half the members of the Donner Party were children. This account, filled with selections from the survivors' letters and diaries, focuses on the children's experiences, making it uniquely compelling and accessible to young readers.

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