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Blood on the River: James Town 1607 Hardcover – May 4, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 190 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5-7–After attempting to steal back a necklace that belonged to his deceased mother, Samuel Collier is sent to an orphanage run by Reverend Hunt. The 11-year-old joins him on a journey to the New World, serving as a page to Captain John Smith. Samuel's account of the voyage to Virginia, political intrigues among the settlers, and the harrowing first winter of the James Town settlement brings to life figures like Smith, Powhatan, and Pocahontas. Details about food and daily life add realism to the story, and quotes from historical sources begin each chapter. This Samuel is more conflicted than the one in Gail Langer Karwoski's Surviving Jamestown: The Adventures of Young Sam Collier (Peachtree, 2001). His initial selfishness changes as he responds to the reverend, to Smith, and to his new friends. His time in an Indian village and his changing perspectives on the Natives add interest to the story and depth to his character. While the opening chapters move slowly, the pace picks up as Samuel reaches Virginia. This title is a good choice for a tie-in with the 400th anniversary celebrations of Jamestown in 2007.–Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. Following Stealing Freedom (1998) and Storm Warriors (2001), both set in the nineteenth century, Carbone dips further back in U.S. history to the founding of James Town. Young orphan Samuel Collier narrates from his viewpoint as Captain John Smith's page, and the gripping historical fiction reflects Carbone's heavy reliance on primary source material, which she cites in an appendix. The dense particulars of daily life may tire readers who demand high-action plots. Others, though, will be easily caught up in the meticulously drawn scenes, from the fetid ship's hold to the snowy forests where Samuel learns to hunt with Powhatan friends. The cover, showing two crouched Powhatan Indians surveying the settlement, is a puzzling choice, particularly since the British characters are the focus. Still, like Joseph Bruchac's Pocahontas (2003), the text offers a view of Indian life that is far from the Disney stereotypes. An author's note offers more historical contest. A strong, visceral story of the hardship and peril settlers faced, as well as the brutal realities of colonial conquest. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (May 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670060607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670060603
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The importance and fun of historical fiction is the ability to "live" in another time and place and understand something about that point in history. As a librarian, I've purchased fiction and nonfiction books about Jamestown and I've provided educational videos on the topic. I have studied the settlement along with the kids through elementary, junior high and high school, blah-blah-blah.

I have just finished Elisa Carbone's superb Blood on the River.

NOW I get it.

Other books have accurately and factually recounted the history of the James Town settlement but Carbone has brought it to life. Using real characters from the colony's registers, she has recreated a story that is an absolute page turner. We smell the stench of the ships and see the frost on the ground. The distrust between the English and the Wampanoag is palpable. The gnawing hunger, the "summer sickness" and the scent of wood fires is so strong, I felt like I was within the palisade walls.

Young Samuel Collier is bound as a page to Captain John Smith on the eve of his departure for Virginia. Sam's fierce temper and survival sense will be his undoing and his salvation in the new land. The perils of the voyage at sea and the political turmoil that plagued the expedition from the onset are vividly described. The useless "gentlemen" resent the common sense of John Smith and his lack of respect for his "betters." Before they even arrive on Virginia's shores, the "gentlemen" have clapped Smith in irons and plan to hang him.

Sam clearly sees the issues confronting the colony but as a servant he is powerless. His loyalty to Smith serves him well. Smith teaches him to fight with a sword and how to use a musket.
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Format: Paperback
I am reading this book aloud to my fourth grade class. All fourth graders in our state study Virginia History, and we just finished covering Jamestown. This book is bringing the story alive to them more than anything else has before... including a trip to the settlement site itself! They are begging for me to read everyday. This book is historically factual and absolutely riveting. It is a must have for adults and kids alike! Well done, Ms. Carbone!
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A Kid's Review on September 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Review to Blood on the River

Blood on the River is my favorite book I've ever read that I remember. I never liked any realistic-fiction or history type books. Blood on the River is not just a good book it's the best. The book could have no story to it and I would still read because the author's language is absolutely amazing.

Samuel Collier is the main character in the book Blood on the River. Samuel Collier is a very mischievous boy in the beginning. Throughout the book you get to see Samuel starts his life on the streets of England and go to being a fine gentleman at Jamestown in the New World. The message in the book is realistic to me, because of seeing, and hearing things in the world about it. The message in the book is how anyone can change with a little encouragement and if they are willing to try. When you start to read this book you will never put it down because no matter what kind of books you like to read, fantasy, nonfiction or whatever this is a great book.

Blood on the River has not only great voice and language the authors put a wonderful story with it. The setting in this book takes place in England and Jamestown in the New World. The few main characters are Samuel Collier, he is a young boy who has lost his mom and learns how to be a well civilized gentleman. One person that has acted like a father to Samuel is Reverend Hunt he is a Reverend who went to the New World and he assisted Samuel becomes the man he became in the end. Someone else who I believe to aided Samuel the most is Captain John Smith he was a great leader and had a great sense of judgment and was not greedy which I think set a good example for everyone in Jamestown.

Blood on the River isn't just a must read because it's a great book and you will want to read it over and over again. The literature she uses in the book is absolutely amazing. I hope that you do choose to read the book because you are in for a great time if you do.
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Format: Hardcover
An author that writes about Indian raids circa the early 1600s is setting themselves up for a monumental challenge. One, quite frankly, that I don't envy a bit. I mean, it's a bit easier if you're taking the side or point of view of the Native Americans. There's a bit of fear that your story is going to be monumentally depressing, but authors like Joseph Bruchac and Michael Dorris have found ways around that. And then some writers for kids decide to go about it in an entirely different way. Let's take the P.O.V. of the settlers. Better still, the James Town settlers. Best of all, the boy assigned to be the servant of that remarkable personal publicity machine and self-promoter, Captain John Smith himself. For what she has set out to do, author Elisa Carbone has done an admirable job. I may not agree with whether or not this was a job that needed to be done, but I can appreciate the work she's put into "Blood On the River".

Samuel Collier is on a one-way street to nowhere. He's a thief, a fighter, and he doesn't trust anyone or anything. As it happens, however, this is an ideal resume for a kid who's about to be sent to the New World as the personal assistant to Captain John Smith. Samuel is cunning and ready to knock someone's teeth out should the need arise. Yet as Smith himself points up, there's no place for people of a solitary nature in Virginia. With the danger of Indian raids ever present and harsh winters ahead, Samuel must learn to trust people and, what's more, trust himself. Along the way he observes John Smith's deft hand with dealing with both Native people and frightened settlers. This is the story of James Town, Smith, Pocahontas, and Samuel Collier backed up by historical references and a whole heaping lot of written records, such as they are.
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