Trouble for Lucy

by Carla Stevens
80 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Lily A.

A slice of life story about a girl on the Oregon Trail.


Lucy’s family is in a wagon train — the first wagon train — moving across the country to the Oregon territory. They are a long way from either their old home or their new home. The puppy Lucy’s uncle gave her keeps getting underfoot, making her father even more grouchy and worried than he would be otherwise. Will she be allowed to keep it? More importantly, for Lucy and her father, will Lucy’s mother survive the journey?


Families are important, even when they don’t get along. Characters generally try to be helpful to one another and to obey the authorities in their lives. In one instance someone does something which she knows her parents would not want her to do, if they knew what was going on. A person who is looked down upon is shown to be nicer than she at first appears.

Spiritual Content

One of the families in the wagon train is Quaker.


Lucy’s mother is pregnant, and gives birth: Lucy hears her moaning. There is fear that someone may be hurt or die on the journey. Mention is made of wolves digging up graves. A character is briefly afraid that someone may have intentionally harmed their pet. It is said that more than half of an Indian nation was killed by smallpox caught from settlers. It is mentioned that there are stories of children being kidnapped by Indians. An afterward speaks of cholera epidemics among the settlers, and mentions stories of Indian attacks in order to say that such attacks are reported falsely.

Drug and Alcohol Content


Sexual Content


Crude or Profane Language or Content

None, unless you count Indian as an offensive term when applied to indigenous North Americans. Some characters say or wish they could say mean-spirited things in G-rated wording.


"Trouble for Lucy" has a straightforward plot, likable characters, and creates tension without being scary. Quotes from real-life accounts of the Oregon Trail travelers are included before each short chapter to set the mood. Characters are not always well-behaved, but they try to watch out for each other. This may be an enjoyable read for children with an interest in American History.

Fun Score: 3.5
Values Score: 3.5
Written for Age: 8-10

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