Patty Reed's Doll: The Story of the Donner Party - Rachel K. Laurgaard, Elizabeth Michaels

I was skeptical.  How could this book be accurate, but also engaging and appropriate for kids?  Well, she totally pulls it off 100% with the clever storytelling device of having everything told from the point of view of a doll which belonged to a real-life survivor of the ill-fated expedition.  Being a doll and constant companion to a child, she experiences and relays the journey as a child would - knowing when things are going badly (even catastrophically), but not of the truly grim and desperate moments that take place out of her view.  Of course, being a book about a treacherous journey, it isn't without death and sadness, but it's handled in an age appropriate manner.  Definitely recommended to anyone wanting to explore this episode in history with a child.