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The First Thanksgiving (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3) Paperback – September 12, 1990
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I'm not keen on politically correct mush, and this book is not politically correct mush. While it is somewhat vague regarding the hardships of the Pilgrims and their relations with the American Indians, I don't fault it for that; books for young children (mine are 4 and 5) needn't go into such detail as the distrust between the settlers and the Indians, etc. -- that's for later learning.
Overall, this is a great book and I already have recommended it to many people!
A group of people, not allowed to follow their own religious beliefs because they are different from the king's, plan a voyage to America, where they hope they will be able to worship as they choose. They know they will face dangers, and they do, but they survive a harsh winter and, with the help of an Indian named Squanto, they learn more about how to thrive in this new land. When the fall harvest comes, and is plentiful, the pilgrims have a feast and invite the Indians to join them.
Like Weisgard, author Linda Hayward calls the settlers "pilgrims", even though they themselves didn't use that name. While Weisgard's book mentions that some "pilgrims" relocated to Holland before returning to England and going on to America from there, Hayward has them going directly to America. Hayward, unlike Weisgard, admits that the pilgrims knew something about the land and the dangers they might face there. Hayward's version details some of the hardships onboard the Mayflower, while overlooking all the troubles the ship had in finding a suitable place to land. Hayward writes that the first Indians the pilgrims meet ran away, while Weisgard has them exchanging fire; Weisgard notes, accurately but vaguely, that the pilgrims took (stole) things they found, while Hayward just says they "found" wonderful things. Hayward acknowledges the tension between the pilgrims and the Indians, but Weisgard writes as if they were friendly at all times. Both books disregard the historically curious fact that, if they were certain that they were simply coming to dinner, Massasoit and his braves would surely have brought women and children. Neither book is historically accurate, but few books are, on this topic, and both reflect what our children are taught in school. If that bothers you, rather than bypass these books, I'd suggest reading both - and others - and using them to open a conversation, or even pursue a little research with your child.
As in Weisgard's book, Indians are Indians (although Hayward refers to Massasoit as an "Indian king", which is silly) - a note for those concerned with political correctness. For the religious and non-religious alike, although religion is mentioned and "a prayer of thanks" is said, no mention of any particular god is made. The book ends by mentioning Lincoln's proclamation that made Thanksgiving a national holiday, another nice opening for further research. James Watling's illustrations are a little pastel for me, at times, but they compliment the text nicely. This book is a Step 3, Reading On Your Own, book in the Step Into Reading set, for grades 1-3, a good fit because the story is exciting enough to keep them interested through new words.