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The Great Railroad Race: the Diary of Libby West

(Dear America)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,573 ratings  ·  98 reviews
As the daughter of a newspaper reporter, fourteen-year-old Libby keeps a diary account of the exciting events surrounding her during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in the West in 1868.
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Scholastic Inc.
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Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
Very interesting look at creating a newspaper in the late 1800's and it's trials. The family and community dynamics created; no-matter where the family was is my favorite. The railroad race was an excellent backdrop that I never really thought much about in history.
Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelsey Hanson
Like all the other Dear America books that I cramming to finish up my goal this year, I enjoyed this one. I tend to like Dear America stories that have a journey or travel involved and this one was no exception. Both Libby and her mother are strong and opinionated and have a sense of adventure. This one was also less depressing than some of the other ones that I recently read which was incredibly refreshing.
Aug 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love all Dear Amercia Books I checked this book out at my school libary and I pretty much got done with it two days after, I couldn't stop reading it.

I absolutely loved it I loved Libby & Pete's romance and then how Joe puts a penny on the railroad and gets in a bunch of trouble. & It's good cause I learned some history from this book. Overall, This was a good book.
Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ana-reviewed
The Great Railroad Race (Utah Territory) / 0-590-10991-X

Another wonderful Dear America book - this one covers the race to connect the opposite ends of the country with a single railroad. Our narrator here is the daughter of an intrepid journalist, who hopes to strike it at least semi-rich by being one of the few to cover the story first-hand. While I recommend the Dear America series for both children and adults, I recognize that the series is primarily marketed towards young children, and I
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite how long it took me to read this book, I enjoyed it immensely. I want to start by sharing my favorite quote from The Great Railroad Race:

"I don't want to be like the absent journalists who write stories about what they think happened, so I will report only what I saw with my own eyes. By the way, my new opinion is this: Gossip and rumors make a mess of history." (Gregory p. 172).

Kristiana Gregory wrote this in the late 1990s through the eyes of her main character, Libby West, a girl
Elizabeth Godin
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing

I love this this book because it has history and I like to learn new things. I think someone else should read this book because if you don't like to learn about history then you could read it. I say that because the book is like a diary about someone in that time. I think it would have been better if there was more romance.
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Libby West. She lives a relatively average life. At least until her father take Libby, her mother, and her brother Joe, along with him to the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. This book is seen through her diary and everything that goes on there.
Nov 24, 2010 marked it as to-read
Shelves: my-self
It has so many details in the book. I love the book.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile
I don't remember reading this one when I was younger (otherwise I'm sure the nostalgia factor would be even greater) but I still find this style of series enjoyable overall. The writing is somewhat basic but I like the way they pack in a whole bunch of historical perspective into one place and the kids I've directed this series to still find it appealing.
Monica Capetillo
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
1868 Council Bluffs, Iowa
The family is Ma, Pa, Libby, and Joe. Ma is pretty, vivacious, Pa is a newsprinter, and Joe is a curious little brother.

When Dad buys a 175 lb. printer and has it delivered, Ma is fit to be tied. He wants to record the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad and Ma doesn't want him out of her sight, as he spent the last 2 yrs. of the War in a Confederate Prison. He has only been home a year and has not fully recovered from his injuries. She decided the only way he
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the story of the first transcontinental railroad, finished only a few years after the end of the Civil War. The construction of the railroad eventually meant the end of the wagon trains and a quicker settling of the west by non-Native Americans.

Libby's father is a newspaper man who wants to record the historic events, so he, his wife, Libby, and her younger brother all accompany him, following the progress of the railroad, sleeping in tents or sometimes actual buildings. It's certainly
This is a good, although ultimately sort of forgettable entry in the DA series. Dear America has an unusually high number of books focusing on Westward Expansion compared to other periods in American history, and thus with so much competition, The Great Railroad Race doesn't particularly stand out among its peers.

However, this book does have some interesting things to offer. I enjoyed the fact that Libby's father is a traveling journalist following the railroad. I also thought it was interesting
Christine Larsen
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-11-20
Libby West's life changes dramatically when her father decides to go west and follow the construction of the Union Pacific railroad in order to report on its progress in his own newspaper. Libby is introduced to all aspects of railroad life, including being constantly on the road, living in a tent, and the temporary saloons and towns that pop up near the railroad. Between the excitement of the ever progressing railroad construction, and a blossoming interest in Pete, her father's assistant, ...more
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dear-america
Actual rating: 2.5 stars. I felt this book didn't focus as much on the railroad race as it could have or on the newspaper angle. Libby was also nice to the point of being bland. Her brother did some annoying/bad things and yet nothing seems to come of it. There were also "lessons" throughout the book like "slavery is bad" and "women should have the right to vote" that felt like an after school special. I also had a problem with Libby and Pete's relationship. She only seems to like him after she ...more
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is one of the better Dear America books. It follows the journey of Libby who travels with her family as her father, a reporter, writes about the development of the transcontinental railroad. This story is simple, but still entertaining. She makes friends along her journey, worries about her relationship with her parents and little brother Joe, and has her first taste of love when her father's partner, Pete, starts paying attention to her. This is an accurate portrayal of what life was like ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, I am astonished that some people didn't. I love the romance. Actually, I didn't think it had enough "I LOVE PETE!!!" kissy kissy stuff. A overall great book that I HIGHLY recommend. I own it, and have read it countless times. A very educational book, along with a BFF, a good enough amount of romance.

And of course she wouldn't love Pete until she found out he was 19. I mean, what would a 15 year old have liking a 40 year old?

I would've put more romance, but that is me. Half
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
we're reading this book in my class, and I really like it so far! i have to say that libby is kinda like me in someway. and by some way, i mean by going off with your friend to get in trouble. :) whats weird to me is that as soon as she found out the Pete was 19 she started to like him. no time before, just then. i still like it though, and i thought it was funny that joe still put the penny on the railroad track a few hours after he saw that one kid die from a penny attack.
I highly recommened
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
This entire series is a wonderful way to learn history or teach it to adolescents. I find today's generations seem to recall more when they learn through other people (pop songs, celebrity gossip, etc.), so what better way to teach history than through someone else's perspective? Yes, "authentic" diaries would be "better", but would the language really hold the modern student's attention? Did the diary writer know what WOULD be important in the context of history? Probably not.
I loved this book so much! 1 of my top 5 in the series! I just loved the romance. What i found strange was that she began to like Pete right after she finds out he is 19 years old. I think some other readers will as well. Over all this book was AMAZING! I totally recommend it to anyone of any age to read. ***** 5 stars all the way! I absolutely love Kristiana Gregory's books in this series. She is my favorite author. You did it again, Kristiana! --Evelyn
Laura Chipman
Aug 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Such a fun, easy read. This was especially fun for me to read because the characters have a lot of similarities to my family's history. The family shares the same last name as our family and they were there when the golden spike was driven and so was my great, great grandpa. He was the one who sent the telegraph that the golden spike had been driven and he was in the famous picture of the two trains meeting. It was fun to better imagine what it would have been like to be there.
Elaine Shipley-pope
Apr 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
The Great Railroad Race is a diary style story that follows Libby; a young girl who travels with her family as her father writes a newspaper about the two railroads finally joining. Its a dangerous adventure for a young girl as the traveling towns that are wildly thriving are full of unsavory characters. She finds a best friend along the way and falls in love with her father's assistant. Overall its a pretty good Dear America book.
Claire Vanderlaan
Jan 07, 2012 added it
Recommends it for: No one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting story that reveals a lot about the newspapers of the time and some wisdom about reporting that is timeless. The story is also intriguing because of the way it shows some of the racism and racial tension of the time while still remaining kid friendly. This is also relevant in the descriptions of the towns that popped up beside the railroad as it was being built. Overall this book is really informative and fun.
Apr 09, 2011 rated it liked it
While this book had some pretty great description of railroad towns in particular. I was, however, impressed that they added in polygamy. Not just a casual mention, but actually introduced characters (albeit almost background ones). It's also the first of these books that I've seen actually blatantly use the word prostitute, which I also found impressive.
Jul 22, 2009 added it
Shelves: summer-ir-09
this book wasnt that great... this book is about a girl named libby west who lives in utah the time of 1868

her parents and her are going on the railroad becuase there is a war and they are going to utah

libby meetss new people sees great new places and most of all she can spend it with her family!
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved the line "History is just lies that men have agreed upon".
I wasn't sure how I'd like this book because I've never had an interest in railroads, but it turned out to be a wonderful story and very informative too. I had loved another Dear America book by Kristiana Gregory (wide and lonesome prairie) so it's no surprise I liked this too.
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First review:

A newspaper reporter's daughter records her family's trip across the western United States as her father reports on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Second review:

Libby West is the daughter of a newspaper reporter following the building of the Continental Railroad. On the way, she makes new friends, learns new things, and finds love.
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who likes this series?! 8 15 Nov 20, 2013 07:03PM  

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Kristiana Gregory grew up in Manhattan Beach, California, two blocks from the ocean. She's always loved to make up stories [ask her family!], telling her younger siblings whoppers that would leave them wide-eyed and shivering. Her first rejection letter at age ten was for a poem she wrote in class when she was supposed to be doing a math assignment. She's had a myriad of odd jobs: telephone ...more

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