The Devil's Paintbox
By Victoria Mckernan
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9780375837500, 368pp.)
Publication Date: January 13, 2009
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When orphans Aiden and Maddy Lynch first meet trailrider Jefferson J. Jackson in the spring of 1865, they’re struggling to survive on their family’s drought-ravaged Kansas farm. So when Jackson offers an escape—a 2000-mile journey across the roughest country in the world—Aiden knows it’s their only choice.
They say there are a hundred ways to die on the Oregon Trail, and the long wagon journey is broken only by catastrophe: wolf attacks, rattlesnakes, deadly river crossings, Indians, and the looming threat of smallpox, “the devil’s paint.” Through it all, Aiden and Maddy and a hundred fellow travelers move forward with a growing hope, and the promise of a new life in the Washington Territory. But one question haunts them: who will survive the journey?
In an adventure-filled and historically accurate new novel, Victoria McKernan captures both the peril and the stunning beauty of the frontier West. Shackleton’s Stowaway (“Truly thrilling” according to The Washington Post) was Victoria McKernan’s first novel for young adults. She lives in Washington, D.C..
Victoria McKernan is the author of the acclaimed Shackleton's Stowaway, a historical novel for young adults about the eighteen-year-old stowaway on Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to the South Pole. She has also written four novels for adults. She is currently at work on her next novel for young readers.
Victoria McKernan lives in Washington, D.C., with a dog, two cats, and one boa constrictor.
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, December 8, 2008:
“Flawless attention to detail and steady pacing keep readers fully engaged . . . Readers will be riveted.”
Starred Review, School Library Journal, February 2009:
“This action-packed novel has all the elements of a good Western. . . Fans of wilderness survival stories or adventure sagas will appreciate it most.”