In the winter of 1846, a group of pioneers known as the Donner Party was stranded by heavy snows in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They endured bitter hardships while trapped for months without food, unable to continue their westward journey to California. Many of them died in the struggle. But certain ones survived, including eight-year-old Patty Reed, a little girl filled with dignity and determination in the face of mortal danger.
Patty had a special friend throughout this ordeal—a tiny wooden doll she kept hidden in her dress. This book is Patty's story, seen through the eyes of her beloved Dolly.
Stored in the doll's wooden head are vivid memories of their fateful journey, beginning at their home in Springfield, Illinois. Dolly remembers the days out on the blossoming prairies "that are like one long picnic," and nights around the campfire when they sang and danced and told stories. She recalls the colorful ceremonies of Indian tribes they encountered on the way, and later, the dusty, tiresome trek through the desert. During the bleak winter months when they were snowbound in the mountains, Dolly was Patty's only comfort.
Today, Dolly sits in a glass case at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, in Sacramento, California, and children come from near and far to visit her. The story of Patty Reed and her little wooden doll gives us a good picture of the true life experiences of real pioneer children. It is skillfully pieced together from authentic letters, journals and reminiscences of Donner Party survivors. It is also the heartwarming tale of how a little girl's love for her precious doll can transcend all danger.
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