Project Description

Teacher’s Guide


The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis & Clark

by Gail Langer Karwoski
illustrated by James Watling

Explore the Louisiana Purchase with Lewis and Clark and SeaMan the dog.

It is 1804—a historic year in America—the year that Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the Corps of Discovery set out for their now-legendary exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, departing St. Louis to travel across the country to the Pacific Ocean and back.

In this fictionalized biography of the journey based upon the journals of Lewis, Clark, and other members of the team, an unheralded member of the Corps, Seaman, a 150-pound Newfoundland dog, is introduced to young historians. Seaman travels the long journey with the Corps, serving a key role in the expedition’s success, catching and retrieving game, and protecting the expedition team from wild animals and hostile Indians.

Come along with Lewis, Clark, the Corps of Discovery, and Seaman as they meet Sacagawea who joins the expedition; form friendships with several Indian tribes; survive near-death encounters; grizzly bear attacks; and buffalo bull stampedes through the camp; cross the Continental Divide; overcome the wounding of their seemingly fearless leader, Meriwether Lewis; rejoice as they return to civilization in 1806.

Hardcover: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-276-7
Total Pages: 192
Size: 6 x 9
Language: English
Paperback: $8.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-190-6
Total Pages: 192
Size: 6 x 9
Language: English
Format: E-book
ISBN: 978-1-56145-612-3
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English

Purchase this E-book through the following vendors:

Baker & Taylor
Barnes & Noble
Recorded Books

Accelerated Reader
AR Quiz#: 29425
AR Reading Level: 6
AR Points: 9

F&P (Fountas & Pinnell)
F&P Level: U
F&P Grade: 5

Reading Counts
Reading Counts Level: 5.5
Reading Counts Points: 13
Reading Counts Interest Level: 6-8


“…its atmosphere is realistic, its timetable is accurate, and its events and characterizations are grounded in fact. Seaman joins the intrepid explorers in the tale with a personality all his own…. This soundly researched, smoothly written story will bring the entire expedition alive for readers 8 to 12, adding not only a canine but a human element to a tale that never grows wearisome. Nobody knows what happened to Seaman after his Western adventures, but he has certainly left one good book behind him.” ―Parade

“….the story flows well. The appended author’s note separates fact from fiction… and tells what happened to the main characters after the events in the book. James Watling’s many handsome, shaded-pencil drawings will help readers visualize the setting, hardships, and dramatic moments of the story; and two maps will enable them to follow the explorers’ route. An effective, fictional introduction to the Lewis and Clark expedition.” ―Booklist

“Once young readers begin this fictional account of the dog’s role in the expedition, they will be caught up in the drama and action and even reluctant readers will find it just too good to put down.” ―School Library Journal

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“I couldn’t put the book down. This is a good book to use for classroom reading…. This book would have a wide audience appeal, especially to dog lovers and those interested in reading historical fiction. Highly Recommended.” ―Book Report

“In this well-researched and finely written book for young readers, Gail Karwoski brings the story back to life through the expedition’s most unlikely and endearing hero… Seaman, the first dog to cross the continent.” ―Dayton Duncan, co-author with Ken Burns of Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery

“…By the time readers finish this incredible tale, it will seem like they have shared the fears, hopes, feelings, and experiences of the explorers. The members of the Corps of Discovery come alive. This book is sure to spark interest in their journey, and in other aspects of American history as well. This is historical fiction, and history, at its finest.” ―A Book and a Garden blog

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Pick of the Lists ―ABA 1999

Children’s Books Mean Business ―American Booksellers Association and Childrens Book Council Joint Committee 2003

Volunteer State Book Awards (master list, 4-6) ―Tennessee Association of School Librarians 2000-2001

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Georgia Children’s Book Award (nominee) ―University of Georgia 1999

Prairie Pasque Children’s Book Award (nominee) ―South Dakota Library Association, SDRC, SD State Library, SD Elementary School Principals 2001-2002

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Meet the Author

Gail Langer Karwoski taught third- and fourth-grade students for many years. She received a BA from the University of Massachusetts and an MA from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Georgia. You can visit her website here.

Meet the Illustrator

James Watling lives in Canada, where he is a professor of art education at McGill University. He has illustrated over twenty-five books for children.