Straightforward text and folk-inspired artwork give just the right amount of information for youngsters, beginning with the Pilgrims’ reasons for leaving England and ending with the first Thanksgiving.
Several pages into the book, readers learn the explanation for the cover’s bold and beautiful depiction of a rowboat full of people heading toward the Mayflower: Another ship, the Speedwell, had sprung a leak. Before this, readers learn about the Puritans’ religious fears in England and about how the term Pilgrims refers to a merger of Puritans and Strangers—unaffiliated adventurers—all crammed together onto the Mayflower on its journey to the New World. The well-researched text includes facts most interesting, arguably, to young readers: what people ate on the Mayflower, how children were entertained, a daring rescue, a clever repair to a broken main beam. Although hardships are not omitted, they are properly muted by simple, unsensational sentences. The art is an excellent extension of the text, showing people, animals and artifacts in a semiprimitive style and a gloriously changing palette—especially striking are the images of the tiny Mayflower in the enormous ocean. By the time readers reach the requisite Thanksgiving scene, rendered in bright, lavish, autumnal hues, they will have learned a good deal of history and had their own feast of the artwork’s richness.
Strict facts, nicely presented: a winning treatment. (timeline, resources) (Informational picture book. 4-9)