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Not to be confused with Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie (play).

"Our new president is James Polk. Pa says the only reason he won the election is because he promised to make Oregon and California territories of the United States. So if enough of us get up and go, it'll help push the foreigners aside for good. It's our "Manifest Destiny," according to President Polk. It's our responsibility to spread democracy all the way to the Pacific coast."
Hattie Campbell[2]

Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell is a historical fiction book written by Kristiana Gregory. It was the fifth entry in Scholastic's Dear America. The book was first published in March 1997 and reissued in April 2012 with new cover art. It was followed by Barry Denenberg's So Far from Home.

Hattie Campbell and her family face a long, grueling journey on the Oregon Trail when they decide to settle out west.


"This book about a journey is dedicated, with deep appreciation, to the outstanding editors who have guided and encouraged me along my own journey as a writer: Jeff Fairbanks, Charlie Ferrell, Scott Gray, Regina Griffin, Karen Grove, Tracy Mack, Ann Reit, Art Seidenbaum, and Elinor Williams; most especially to my literary agent and friend, Barbara Markowitz."

Book description[]

Now that we're in the North Platte River Valley the air feels dry and thin. My lips are so chapped they bleed when I talk. The only thing to do is dip our fingers into the bucket of axle grease and rub our lips every hour or so. It smells bad, it tastes bad, and the blowing dust sticks.
It feels like we must be halfway to Oregon, but Tall Joe says, no, we've only gone five hundred miles. He also says the worst part of the trail is to come.
Does he mean more rivers to cross...? I'm afraid to ask what he's talking about.

My name is Hattie. This is my story....
After the death of her two sisters, thirteen-year-old Hattie Campbell and her family decide to try for a fresh start. They sell their farm in Missouri and head toward Oregon City, along the Oregon Trail. At first the adventure is exciting, but as the days, weeks, and months pass, Hattie realizes what a dangerous trip it is. As they cross the great prairie, death, disease, bad weather, and rough terrain take a terrible toll on their traveling party. The Campbells lose neighbors and friends until they almost cannot bear to continue. But they must persevere or risk the same misfortune. In the pages of her diary, Hattie chronicles the hardships of this harrowing journey, but also captures the small moments, the friendships and celebrations of life, that keep hope alive.


On her thirteenth birthday, Hattie Campbell receives a diary from her aunt June. A few days later, her father decides to head out west. Hattie's mother eventually agrees to it, despite being against it at first. She feels better about it when her sister June and her Tim decide to accompany them. All the preparations for the journey are made and the family boards a steamboat to Independence, Missouri. There they camp for several days before setting out on the Oregon Trail. All the while, Hattie keeps close watch on her younger brothers, Ben and Jake.

On the trail, the days start to blend together and Hattie often loses track of the date. She befriends twins Pepper and Wade Lewis. Some days into the journey, Hattie and Pepper cook dinner unaware that they are using the poisonous water hemlock. Three children pass away after ingesting it, while Wade falls into a three-day coma. Hattie feels as if it is her fault. Meanwhile, she starts to distrust Mrs. Kenker after seeing her steal something. Hattie is unsure how to proceed with this knowledge and resorts to just keeping an eye on her.

Watching Pepper and Gideon get closer and eventually marry, Hattie starts to long for someone to love as well. Wade, however, seems not receptive of her attention. In the meantime, Hattie befriends the married couple Mrs. and Mr. Bigg. One day, she reveals everything about Mrs. Kenker to the pair. They in turn reveal that she and her husband lost everything including their two sons. Hattie then starts to have to mixed feelings about Mrs. Kenker. After departing Fort Bridger, some families decide to stay in Wyoming but Hattie's father wants to keep going to Oregon. Her mother agrees to continue following his dream.

The journey grows more arduous and the Campbells and others have to leave behind some of their belongings. Later, Mrs. Kenker's husband accidentally dies after stepping off a cliff. The things she had stolen are discovered not long after, causing her to be ostracized. Near the end of the journey, aunt June gives birth to a daughter during a river crossing. Mrs. Bigg falls in the water and drowns during the same crossing, devastating her husband and friends. Finally in October, they reach Oregon City. There the Campbells' and their friends make homes for themselves. That Christmas, Hattie forgives Mrs. Kenker.


Historical Note[]


Main article: List of Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie characters
  • Hattie Campbell, a thirteen-year-old girl traveling on the Oregon Trail with her family. She experiences hardships and makes many friendships along the way.
  • Pepper Lewis is a girl whom Hattie befriends on the trail. She is a year older and has a twin brother named Wade. Pepper becomes close to Wade's friend Gideon.


Main article: Kristiana Gregory

Kristiana Gregory is a children's author who penned five books for Dear America, three for The Royal Diaries, and three for My America. Her other titles in Dear America include The Winter of Red Snow, The Great Railroad Race, Seeds of Hope, and Cannons at Dawn. Gregory wrote Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie after moving from California to Colorado. She identified with Hattie and her family for their "excitement and hopes, with their dream of starting a new life in a new land."


Main article: Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie (play)

A stage play based on Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie was written by Julie Jensen. It was originally commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, but unclear whether the center performed it. The play was put on by the Playwrights Theatre and Growing Stage in New Jersey in 2010 and the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri in 2012. It was also going to be performed at the University of Utah in 2020, but was cancelled.

Shared continuity[]

Released in 2001 and also written by Gregory, Seeds of Hope serves as an indirect sequel to Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie. Hattie and her parents are mentioned as being relatives of the main character Susanna Fairchild and the reason for the Fairchilds' heading to Oregon.


  • Narrator: Unknown
  • Publisher: Scholastic
  • Published: 1999
  • No. of cassettes: 4
  • ISBN: 9780439083911[6]
  • Note: Published as a part of Scholastic's READ 180 program.[7]

  • Narrator: Stina Nielsen, Barbara Rosenblat
  • Publisher: Live Oak Media
  • Published: August 30, 2005[8]
  • Running time: 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • No. of discs: 3
  • ISBN: 9781595194633[9]


  • Indian Paintbrush Book Award (2000) - nominated[10]


"The author would like to thank Karla J. Demby, M.D., F.A.C.P., for sharing case studies on hemlock poisoning; and Anita Tanner for historical material on Brigham Young's westward journey of 1847."


  • The portrait on the cover of the first edition is a detail of the 1891 painting The Broken Pitcher by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. The background is a detail from the 1856 painting Kanesville - Missouri River Crossing by William Henry Jackson.[11][12][13]
  • Tim O'Brien illustrated the portrait on the 2012 reprint. The background is also the same as the first edition.[14]


See also[]

Dear America

A Journey to the New World | The Winter of Red Snow | When Will This Cruel War Be Over? | A Picture of Freedom
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly
West to a Land of Plenty | Dreams in the Golden Country | Standing in the Light | Voyage on the Great Titanic
A Line in the Sand | My Heart Is on the Ground | The Great Railroad Race | The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow
A Light in the Storm | Color Me Dark | A Coal Miner's Bride | My Secret War | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
Valley of the Moon | Seeds of Hope | Early Sunday Morning | My Face to the Wind | Christmas After All
A Time for Courage | Where Have All the Flowers Gone? | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Survival in the Storm
When Christmas Comes Again | Land of the Buffalo Bones | Love Thy Neighbor | All the Stars in the Sky
Look to the Hills | I Walk in Dread | Hear My Sorrow


The Fences Between Us | Like the Willow Tree | Cannons at Dawn | With the Might of Angels | Behind the Masks
Down the Rabbit Hole | A City Tossed and Broken

External links[]