Genre: middle grade historical fiction
Length: 233 pages
Setting: Jamestown, 1607-1610
Interest: I chose the book for our first American History Club book on the colonization of the U.S.
Summary: Samuel Collier was an orphan boy in England who was chosen to be Captain John Smith’s page on the Virginia Trading Company’s trip to James Town. The trip to the New World was difficult, as the passengers were supposed to stay ‘tween decks. The high percentage of gentlemen, who refused to do any work, also created problems on the voyage and when they landed in James Town. If it wasn’t for trading with helpful Native Americans, they probably would have starved. Unfortunately, the settlers are attacked and have to build a palisade. Captain John Smith is often able to smooth things over with the Native Americans (although the gentlemen don’t trust him because of his station in life). It becomes even easier when he’s adopted by Chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas. Unfortunately, most of the settlers and gentlemen don’t heed his advice, so relationships deteriorate with the Native Americans.
Final thoughts: I am quite pleased with this book choice for American History Club. It was an interesting story that beautifully described life in the early Jamestown colony. The interactions with the Native Americans, including Pocahontas, were nuanced since there were friends and enemies on both sides. The narrator was a boy who grew up in the story and provided some important life lessons for kids who might read the book. He had to struggle with making friends and controlling his temper, which are universal problems for kids.
I really appreciated the flavor text at the beginning of each chapter. It was drawn from historical documents and gave a preview of what was about to happen in the story. It emphasized to me the fact that most of these events really happened; it wasn’t just some made-up story.
Title comes from: The fighting between Native Americans and the European settlers.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 63/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, and a C in my Author Alphabet Challenge
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