The Ellis the Elephant series is a cute way for children to learn about important historical events in our nation. The newest book, From Sea to ShiningSea, takes Ellis the Elephant along the great expedition of Lewis and Clark. He learns about the Louisiana Purchase and how it expanded the United States from thirteen colonies along the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific. He also learns how inventors developed technologies like the steamboat to power America’s expansion.
I loved this book. As a homeschooling mom, it's fun to see things I can incorporate into the day that are educational and kid-friendly. My girls enjoyed the book too, and even my younger daughter, age five, paid attention throughout the whole story. My older daughter, age seven, loved telling her dad what she learned when he got home.
I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.
What was the inspiration behind creating the Ellis the Elephant series?
Americans of any age come to truly love America when they understand its history, because an honest study of our past teaches that the United States has been one of the greatest forces for good in human history. In many schools, however, our children are learning a somewhat negative version of our history that focuses on what is wrong with America. I love our country, and I wanted to help teach children about why America really is an exceptional nation. Ellis the Elephant, my time-travelling pachyderm, is a wonderful friend for children--and sometimes adults--to discover important moments in our history. It has been very rewarding to see how much kids love Ellis.
Why is From Sea to Shining Sea important for young readers?
The early years following the American revolution were a formative period in our country’s history. At the beginning of George Washington’s presidency in 1789, the United States was a small cluster of former British colonies on the Atlantic Ocean. By the end of Thomas Jefferson’s administration in 1809, it was a nation spanning from coast to coast. Courage, determination, and a pioneering spirit came to define America during this time--and these characteristics have endured for more than 200 years. From Sea to Shining Sea introduces young readers to this pivotal moment in our nation’s history.
Why was the Lewis and Clark Expedition so important?
The Lewis and Clark Expedition was the most important expedition in American history. After nearly doubling the size of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson sent the Corps of Discovery, led by Lewis and Clark, to explore the new territory and map a route to the Pacific Ocean. When they departed, 2 out of 3 Americans lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. The explorers became the first American citizens to cross the Continental Divide and discover just how big a continent this is. In the years that followed, millions of Americans followed their lead and moved west. The Lewis and Clark expedition was the start of American’s looking to the West for their future.
What are some of the surprising things you learned?
I was surprised to learn that Meriwether Lewis actually helped deliver Sacagawea’s first baby when the explorers were camped for the winter at Fort Mandan in 1805. It was also interesting to learn that during an important decision to relocate their winter camp on the Pacific coast in November 1805, both Sacagawea and Clark’s slave, York, were allowed to vote. This may have been the first time in our history that both a woman and a slave were allowed to vote.