A much-longer-than-typical picture book about the Mayflower’s first landing in America and its aftermath, told through the eyes of one of its passengers.
Based on historical fact, this feast of a book, the first illustrator Lynch has authored as well, will captivate readers from its opening double-page spread. Lynch’s masterful watercolor and gouache illustrations—harkening back to the grand style of Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth—bring to life the true story of indentured servant John Howland, who sailed on the Mayflower with his master in 1620. Howland’s narration relates the difficult ocean crossing and how, in a storm, he is swept overboard but miraculously rescued. Once land is reached, however, Howland and the other settlers find their difficulties have begun in earnest. Winter weather, lack of food, sickness, and aggression toward the native peoples all contribute to the demise of more than half the original settlers. But spring comes, the native people offer help, and the familiar Thanksgiving story is broached. What sets this book apart from myriad Pilgrim stories is Howland’s personal point of view, which helps readers enter into the tenor of the time, when the settlers’ religious faith both motivated and sustained them, and the dramatic illustrations with their expert play of expression, composition, and light.
Sweeping and grand, this personal take on a familiar story is an engaging success. (bibliography, author’s note) (Picture book. 6-14)