Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims

Brief Description: A biography of the Native American Pokanoket man who welcomed and assisted the English settlers at Plymouth Colony.  This story also covers an earlier period during which he had been kidnapped and taken to Spain and England.

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Date Range: 1620

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Original Publication: 1954

Suitable for Grades: 2-6th

Target Audience: Chapter Book, Middle Grade

Librarian's Review

The tale of Squanto’s life is sweetly told by Bulla, though simplified and perhaps historically inaccurate. The life of the real Squanto was not so happy. This book depicts two journeys to Europe for Squanto, but evidence points to only one journey, the result of a kidnapping. Bulla writes of Squanto’s voluntary adventure to Europe in the first half of the book; this appears to be false. Despite George Weymouth’s claims in his later years that one of the several natives he had kidnapped and taken to Britain was Squanto, this was chronologically impossible.

As told in the latter half of the book, Squanto actually was taken against his will by a different Captain Thomas Hunt in 1616, sold into slavery in Spain, and rescued by local monks who arranged passage to England for him. It was not until 1619 that he was on his way home, courtesy of John Slanie and Captain Thomas Dermer. Once back on North American terra firma, Squanto discovered that the people of his village had been wiped out by European disease.

Squanto nevertheless magnanimously used his English language skills to help the newly arrived Plymouth colonists. By introducing the ill-prepared colonists to native crops and growing methods, as well as native methods of hunting, Squanto quite possibly saved their lives. The first communal feast after the harvest is now commemorated by our modern Thanksgiving holiday.

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