Simon Kenton: Young Trail Blazer
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Simon Kenton: Young Trail Blazer
Author: Katharine E. Wilkie
Series: Childhood of Famous Americans
Major Themes: Daniel Boone, Explorers, Kentucky, Pioneers, Virginia
Synopsis: Simon Kenton, a contemporary of Daniel Boone, led an adventurous life in the wilderness of Virginia and Kentucky.
I don’t remember hearing about this man before, but the study guide we’re using for American history this year recommended Simon Kenton: Young Trail Blazer by Katharine E. Wilkie, in the Childhood of Famous Americans series, to go along with a look at Daniel Boone’s life. I have just found a website where I can borrow many books, so we read this one together, and all my boys enjoyed it.
Simon Kenton grew up on a farm in the backwoods of Virginia. He was the fourth son of the family, but very important to their survival by the time he was in his teens. As a boy, he badly wanted a rifle long before his father allowed him to have one, so a friend helped him make a bow and arrow. Very soon, he was supplying his family with their meat—and when he was finally allowed to have his own rifle, he hunted even more. He always wanted to be in the wilderness, and when he was in his upper teens, he left home alone, without even any weapons, one day.
During the next 12 years, Simon, using an assumed name, wandered through the wilderness of Virginia. He helped a number of explorers, and aided families who were settling the Ohio Valley—and finally made his way into Kentucky. Apparently, his path only crossed Daniel Boone’s briefly, but they were certainly in the same area at the same time. We learned a lot about the settlement of Kentucky from this interesting story.
As with all Childhood of Famous Americans books, this one focuses mainly on Simon’s younger years. It is rich in detail about daily life on the frontier. It is also simply written, but with a very interesting storyline, which appeals to younger readers; I had one reluctant reader get hooked on some books from this series, which was exciting. Also, even though during the place and time in which this biography is set, was rough and wild, there are only two chapters that were violent. At the end of the book, at least of the older edition which we read, there are a number of study helps. There is a very useful timeline of Simon’s life, study questions, more things to look up and activities to do, and a list of other books you can read to expand your study. There is also a glossary of difficult words. Unfortunately, it appears that this book is out of print; you might be able to find a copy in a library.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12
Links to buy Simon Kenton: Young Trail Blazer:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Daniel Boone, Explorers, Kentucky, Pioneers, Simon Kenton, Virginia, Biography, Colonial Era (US)