Brief Description: Illustrated account of pilgrims’ Mayflower voyage and settlement at Plymouth Colony. This is a companion book to the author’s People of the Breaking Day and Thunder from the Clear Sky.
Historical Era: 17th Century
Date Range: 1620-1621
Original Publication: 1986
Suitable for Grades: 1-6th
Target Audience: Picture Book, Chapter Book
Narrated collectively by the religious pilgrims fleeing King James’ England, the text describes the difficult sea voyage on the Mayflower, the initial November 1620 landfall at a “hideous and desolate wilderness,” and then the discovery further up the coast of the abundant land where “no Indian greeted” them. By December, when they started building their Common House, many had fallen ill. Half of them died of sickness.
The author’s wonderful paintings accompany the portrayal of the daily life of the men over the spring and summer, which included building simply furnished houses, fishing, hunting, clearing and planting farmland, and governing and organizing the people. The women were kept busy helping with the harvest, cooking, pickling, preserving and butchering. They also raised the children and mended clothes. Many unrelated people lived in each house, and the women were responsible for feeding and cleaning up after them. The children did not go to school, but fetched water and helped out with the chores. On Sundays, everybody attended church “for many hours.”
As portrayed here, the English were at first quite afraid of the Native Americans, mainly because they were different. But a friendly chance visit from Samoset introduced them to the leader Massasoit and Squanto, who was instrumental in their survival. The pilgrims made agreements with Massasoit not to attack each other. For the first fall harvest, the pilgrims invited Massasoit and ninety others to join in the celebration, which is now commemorated as Thanksgiving. In ten years time, the pilgrims prospered and were able to send trade goods back to England. More and more English people arrived to seek their fortunes and they needed more land outside of the original boundaries of Plymouth colony.
Back matter includes a glossary of old-fashioned words used by the pilgrims. The author quotes liberally from “Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford and “Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth.” More information about Bradford’s work can be found from the State Library of Massachusetts. This book can be read together with the author’s People of the Breaking Day and Thunder from the Clear Sky to form a more complete picture of this historic time period.
More information about historic Patuxet Village can be found on the The Plimouth Patuxet Museums website. There are excellent resources to learn more about the indigenous Wampanoag people and the English settlers. Some resource pages are Teacher Toolkit, visiting Historic Patuxet Homesite, and more about the Wampanoag. There is even an excellent interactive game about Thanksgiving (it might take a few minutes to load on your PC.)