E-Mail: plourie@middlebury.edu


Social Studies in Texastie-ins (pdf)





School Library Journal - 2/1/2009

Grade 5–8—In 1527, Governor Pánfilo de Narváez sailed westward from Spain to explore the land that stretched between present-day Florida and Mexico, colonizing and conquering. With him, as his treasurer and sheriff, was Cabeza de Vaca. The men ran out of food, and Spanish ships failed to return for them. In desperation, they built five rafts and attempted to sail to Mexico. The survivors made it as far as Galveston. By this time, the governor was dead, and Cabeza de Vaca served as the commander. Eight years later, he returned to Spain, one of only four to live through the ordeal. He didn't bring the hoped-for gold, but he did return with a wealth of information, codified in La Relación, his account of his experience. Then, 475 years later, Lourie set out to follow Cabeza de Vaca's trail through Texas, using La Relación as a guide. This well-researched, beautifully composed book is the result. Using primary sources and period reproductions as well as the author's experiences and contemporary pictures, it highlights historical information within the context of current circumstances. Beautifully placed photos, reproductions, maps, and sidebars enhance the fluid text, making this title sound fare for augmenting American history units. Expanding and extending Stuart Waldman's more pictorial We Asked for Nothing: The Remarkable Journey of Cabeza de Vaca (Mikaya, 2003), this volume is a worthy addition to most collections not only for its historical content but also for the way in which it demonstrates the processes historians use in their research.—Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA
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From Booklist

As he did in volumes such as On the Trail of Sacagawea (2001), Lourie journeys in the footsteps of a significant historical figure. Conquistador Cabeza de Vaca arrived in the New World in 1528 as part of a Spanish expedition to explore and colonize the area between Florida and Mexico. One of only four survivors of early disasters, he came ashore near present-day Galveston and made his way westward into Mexico over eight years. Since the explorer’s actual path is disputed, Lourie consulted historians for advice before choosing his route through Texas; but a modern map indicating places that Lourie visited would have been helpful to readers. Illustrated with many period pictures and maps as well as clear, color photos, the book offers information about Cabeza de Vaca within a contemporary framework. Some students may be put off by the framework story, but those who persevere will find useful information as well as insights into a historian’s methods and disputes. Grades 4-7. --Carolyn Phelan

From Childhood Education

Lourie, Peter ON THE TEXAS TRAIL OF CABEZA DE VACA. ISBN 978-159078-492-1. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2008. 48 pp. $17.95. Five hundred years after de Vaca completed his journey from Florida to Mexico, Peter Lourie follows the trail of this famous conquistador. With the help of de Vaca's journal and the many historians Lourie meets along the way, the author pieces together the story of de Vaca's amazing and perilous journey. The book includes pictures of the historians who provided information, art depicting de Vaca's journey, maps, and photos of primary artifacts. Lourie's previous works are numerous and well-honored. This book is both an excellent historical reference and a model for students on how to conduct historical research. Ages 10 and up. Reviewed by Mary Anne Hannibal, Column Editor. –Childhood Education, Summer, 2009


ON THE TEXAS TRAIL OF CABEZA DE VACA - Kirkus Reviews - 10/15/2008

Author: Lourie, Peter

Review Date: OCTOBER 15, 2008
Publisher: Boyds Mills
Pages: 48
Price (hardback): $$17.95
Publication Date: 12/1/2008 0:00:00
ISBN: 978-1-59078-492-1
ISBN (hardback): 978-1-59078-492-1
Category: CHILDREN'S

Most of the conquistadores have a well-deserved bad rep, but here Lourie (On the Trail of Lewis and Clark, 2002) retraces the travels of one exception. Part of a 1527 expedition that started out with 600 men and ended with four, Alvar NúÜez Cabeza de Vaca was shipwrecked near the site of modern Galveston and while being "comforted, fed, mistreated, enslaved and embraced" by many groups of native residents, looped through what was to become Texas and Mexico. Writing later of his eight-year sojourn, he became the first European to detail much of the area's flora and fauna—and also among the first to describe the New World's people not as savages but as "human beings like himself, with a capacity for love and hate, good and evil." The author explains how he identified Cabeza de Vaca's probable route with help from scholars and local guides, and illustrates his travelogue with a mix of period and later images. His narrative voice sets this apart from more detailed but less personal accounts of the explorer's adventures. (maps, brief quotations, timeline, resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)