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Children's Fiction General

The Devil's Highway

by (author) Stan Applegate

illustrated by James Watling

Peachtree Publishing Company
Initial publish date
Sep 1998
General, General, 19th Century
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 1998
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7


Two brave, determined young pioneers travel along the dangerous Natchez Trace in 1811, searching for their missing families.
Fourteen-year-old Zeb and eleven-year-old Hannah team up to make their way safely down the Natchez Trace from Franklin, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi. Zeb, who does not believe the story he hears that his grandfather was killed by thieves along the trail, is determined to find him. Hannah, who escaped from the treacherous Mason gang, hopes to be reunited with both her Choctaw Indian friends and her family.
When the two adventurers reach the Choctaw village, Zeb is befriended by the Indians and rewarded for his bravery through initiation into the tribe. However, as the children narrowly escape life-threatening situations along their journey, they still face challenges: can Zeb find his grandfather? Is he still alive?
In author Stan Applegate's riveting adventure tale brought to life by James Watling's illustrations, Zeb and Hannah learn to value each other's survival skills and courage.

About the authors

Stan Applegate holds degrees from Pennsylvania State University and Columbia University. He worked in education for many years, as a teacher, as chief of education science and technology for USAID in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, for the office of American affairs in education, and as vice president for research and sponsored programs at the University of South Carolina. He passed away in 2018.

Stan Applegate's profile page

James Watling has illustrated many children's books with historical themes including The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward. He lives near Montreal, Canada.

James Watling's profile page


  • Winner, Volunteer State Book Awards (Master List, Grades 4-6)
  • Winner, Best Books for Young Teen Readers
  • Winner, Georgia Author of the Year (Best of Middle Reader Division)

Editorial Reviews

“A fast-paced story set against the backdrop of the Natchez Trace in the early 1800s?. Broad strokes of historical details enrich the storyline. Zeb and Hannah are able to sustain themselves, and the plot, with their pluck and determination.?

Other titles by Stan Applegate

Other titles by James Watling