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SQUANTO’S JOURNEY by Joseph Bruchac


The Story of the First Thanksgiving

by Joseph Bruchac & illustrated by Greg Shed

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-15-201817-4

Does every child need a book on every subject in which the facts are set within a fictional frame? Young children and unwary adults, too, may be confused by what is fiction and what is fact, despite Bruchac’s excellent historical note (which is well beyond the textual level of the main story). The note is meant for the adult, but the attractive book will catch the young reader with its generous, full, facing-page gouaches, albeit somewhat static in its autumnal colors. The paintings depict the characters portrayed in a text that sketches the life of Squanto (“Tisquantum” before his capture from the Virginia region and his kidnap to Europe). Upon his return to the New World, he landed in a new colony that was to become New England. Bruchac lets Squanto tell his story and the story of the first Thanksgiving in the New World as well as his interactions with the Pilgrims. Important details about what people wore (and didn’t wear) and what was eaten (and what wasn’t) abound. The story is eminently readable, thanks to a clear, widely leaded typeface, but if the notes and glossary are not consulted, confusion about names, tribes, and geography will remain. A map of Squanto’s travels and the homelands of the native groups would be of enormous assistance, as would a pronouncing glossary since some of the terms may be difficult for young—and older—readers. Nonetheless, every teacher and librarian who works with school-age children will want to purchase this less-than-perfect book because it offers two important topics—Native Americans and the first Thanksgiving in the New World—from a noteworthy storyteller. (Fiction. 6-9)