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John Smith Escapes Again! Hardcover – October 10, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5–Schanzer introduces a man whose life experiences went far beyond Colonial America. At age 16, he volunteered to go to the Netherlands and fight Catholic Spain. He traveled around Europe making stops in France, Scotland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Transylvania, and Greece. He sailed on a pirate ship, was stranded on a desert island, and was almost drowned a few times. These adventures were all before his trips to America. Schanzer has done extensive research for both her text and her engaging cartoon illustrations. Children will be delighted by the tidbits she has included, such as some Native American men wearing live snakes in their pierced ears. The detailed drawings of Smith's many routes provide an excellent opportunity for practicing map-reading skills, although the small size of some of the art makes the book better suited for individual reading than for group sharing. A great choice for all collections.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Explorer John Smith is best remembered for his romance with Pocahontas (which never happened); his adventures have been forgotten. But Schanzer presents Smith as an escape artist, and there's no doubt this premise (and the terrific, energetic book design) makes this an appealing way to introduce kids to history. More problematic is the accuracy of the derring-do. A fine author's note explains that although Smith was discredited during the Civil War, modern scholars have confirmed the "basic accuracy" of his writings; however, he may have "embroidered his tales." Schanzer has closely based her book on Smith's own writings, and this is where the confusion comes in; a straight reading implies that Smith's adventures really happened, though they seem (in quantity and/or quality) exaggerated. That rather large caveat aside, this is still a thrilling portrait of the man and his times. Maps, illustrated sidebars, and vividly colored full-page art intensify the text, and the unusual depiction of Pocahontas--with a partly shaved head--is vetted in Schanzer's illustrator's note. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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So we tried this book.
I am amazed at the quality of the illustrations and the story-telling. My boys love the book -- especially my second grader.
Very well done, and the illustrations carry the story line and convey layers of meaning and danger.