Most American children know the story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, but the Native American side of the tale is far less familiar. Joseph Bruchac, a prolific and award-winning author of Native American descent (The First Strawberries, A Boy Called Slow) describes life in 1620 for a man who was destined to save the Pilgrims even as he was losing his family and tribe. Told from Squanto's point of view, this historically accurate and detailed story brings to life one of the most important moments in America's past. Demonstrating how much his people (the Patuxet, the People of the Falls) value honor, Squanto befriends English traders, even after being kidnapped and taken to Spain. After much hard work, Squanto manages to sail back to his homeland, where, in spite of his discovery that many of his people have died from disease brought by white people, he acts as envoy between the English and his own people, and helps the pilgrims survive in their new world.
Throughout this moving tale, Squanto's belief that "these men can share our land as friends" poignantly shines through. Greg Shed's gouache illustrations capture the warmth and dignity of Squanto and his friends. Young readers will be fascinated by this lesser-known perspective on the Thanksgiving tradition that remains strong today. (Ages 6 to 10) --Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5-A picture book that focuses on the young Indian who helped the Pilgrims survive the brutality of the New England winter. When he was 24, an English captain abducted Squanto along with 20 of his tribesmen and took them to Spain to be sold as slaves. Spanish friars helped him escape to England where he learned the language and dreamed of going back to his native land. When he finally returned, he served as translator and mediator between the English colonists and the other Indian tribes. He convinced Samoset, a sachem of the Pemaquid, to accept and work with the white settlers. It was this cooperation that helped the tiny Plymouth Colony to survive. Many authors have given the Native American credit for his role in the survival of the colony. What distinguishes this first-person account is the authenticity of detail. In his author's note, Bruchac describes the research that he used to flesh out the story with dates and names. However, because of the wealth of facts, the text has a stilted quality. Shed's full-page gouache illustrations are beautifully executed in golden, autumnal tones. There is a richness of detail in the pictures that echoes the passion for historical accuracy in costume and interior-and-exterior dwellings. However, the full-bled illustrations tend to overwhelm the text and the uniformity of their size and placement can become somewhat tedious. Still, most libraries will want to own this version.
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Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY
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