BOOK REVIEWS

Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-01-14 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 51 user ratings
ISBN:0152018174
LANGUAGE:English

" We appreciated the author's note at the end of the book that provided additional historical information. We really enjoyed reading this book together.This book was featured as one of the selections for the November 2015: Thanksgiving discussion for the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads. " said.

"I love the beautiful illustrations in this tale and the different approach to the historical tale of the Plymouth Thanksgiving feast. I also really enjoyed the author's note about Native American history and the glossary in the back. The only thing that I found myself wanting in this story was a little bit more emotion in the tone. Sometimes it felt like 'Squanto' (the author) was just presenting facts rather than feelings, especially when it came to his capture and his learning of the death of his family and tribe. Although I do feel that the illustrations beautifully portrayed the emotions of the tale. " said.

"Published: 2000, Silver Whistle
Age: 7-10
This is the story of the first Thanksgiving from the Native Indians perspective. What younger students may not know is that an English captain, Thomas Hunt abducted Squanto and some of his tribesmen and took them to Spain to be slaves. Spanish friars helped Squanto escape to England where he learned some English. He longed for his native land and eventually his friend, Thomas Dermer, took him back to his homeland, America. He found that most of his people, the People of the Falls, or the Patuxet, had died from diseases brought by the English traders. Squanto continued to work for peace and it was he who helped the Pilgrims survive. An endnote by Bruchac explains his research into the true facts of the first Thanksgiving and the myths (such as hats with buckles on them.) The pictures fill one side of the page and the text is on the facing page. The detailed gouache illustrations are in beautiful earth tones and show authentic clothing and landscape. This book is filled with information. It shows a full double page picture of a Thanksgiving dinner-I didn’t see a turkey, but it was not mentioned in the text what exactly they ate other than corn, beans, and squash. There is also a glossary of words from the story with definitions and explanations.
" said.

" Don't pass this up - Squanto's story is an important part to the history of Thanksgiving. And this is a great rendering for children. There are pictures on each page spread and although it's history, it's told more in story format so kids will stay intrigued. Ages: 4 - 9Cleanliness: God is referred to by a few Native American names, such as the Great Mystery.#thanksgiving " said.

"This was the first book I’d read that had Squanto telling the story. It was neat to learn his people, the Patuxet Indians, were named after the waterfall. They were the People of the Falls. They valued honor and John Smith’s officer, Thomas Dermer, apparently shook Squanto’s hand, which meant a lot to him.

The illustrations were a little fuzzy. I would have liked for them to be clearer and have more detail, but they weren’t bad.

He and other men were tricked to come on board by another captain, were told they would dine on the ship but were really sailed to Spain. I liked the inclusion of pniese, a man of courage. He supposedly told stories to his people and wanted them to be strong on the journey. The Brothers got him to England, and he knew if he could be useful to the English they might let him sail back home.

Interesting custom that they didn’t speak the names of the dead. He wouldn’t speak of them until he went on the Road of Stars himself.

Squanto and Thomas Dermer made friendly contacts with some tribes. But the leader of the Capawack tribe, Epanow, had been taken as a slave and hated the English. An English captain invited a group of Indians on board his ship, where he shot them. In retaliation, Epanow attacked Squanto and Thomas was injured. He got Thomas to safety but Squanto was taken as a prisoner of Pokanoket. This tribe was weakened from sickness and the Narragansett ordered the once-proud Pokanoket and Nemasket tribes to pay tribute to them. Great insight into the way the tribes worked and their values.

Samoset brought two arrows with him when he went to see the English. One had an arrowhead and the other didn't, to represent the Indians offering either war or peace. That was a really cool custom one I'd never heard of.

Squanto was freed from being prisoner to be a guide and interpreter. The last sentences in the book was Squanto giving thanks to the Creator. He was at home in Plymouth because it was the land of his people. The image showed him at sunset with his arms raised to the sky, the sun shining over the water. The very last page was an image of Squanto with his arms crossed, standing in the woods and the light was filtering through the trees. It was a nice picture.

The author’s note was a nice touch, though it was definitely for adults and not children. There were really big words like reverberation. It’s cool that she’s a descendent of the Native American New Englanders, and that when she writes about other nations, she wants to hear the voices of the native people. She had help from actual Wampanoag Indians, including Fast Turtle and Slow Turtle. It was cool learning thank you in their language, wliwini nidobak. Very interesting how her sister is an authority on the Indians of the early 17th century and has been consulted by historical villages, museums, and Indian nations like the Plimoth Plantation. The author says that almost all books on the first Thanksgiving have errors about the event from the food they ate to the clothes the Pilgrims wore. She, like other Indians, believe the land talks to them when they listen. It’s so cool she’s been on that land that Squanto lived on, while food was being cooked in a traditional way.

I liked that it was in Squanto's point of view. That's original and refreshing from the other Thanksgiving books that have Squanto as a small part and focus on the Pilgrims instead. There's insight into the Native American way of thinking. I wish the artwork had been better and the writing a little better, because it wasn't that good.

" said.

" In this book, Squanto helped the first New England colony survive. This book portrays native Americans positively and is detail rich. For example, accuracy exists in showing the food the Pilgrims ate to the clothes they wore. It is definitely a springboard for further reading. Pretty pictures, but not terribly interesting for students. " said.

"Finally a Thanksgiving story I feel comfortable reading to my daughter! As Bruchac points out in the author’s note the Native American side of this story is rarely told and a good deal of the first Thanksgiving story told from a European perspective is inaccurate or wrong (from foods eaten to clothing worn).

The text is longer in this so it’s probably better suited to older readers, but personally I would read it aloud to my daughter. There are some hard pieces to this story, like the fact that Squanto is kidnapped and sold into slavery or that the majority of his people are wiped out by illness, but Bruchac handles these parts of the story beautifully. He mentions them matter of factly and never dwells on it. He also doesn’t stoop to painting all Europeans with the villain’s brush nor does he fall back on Native American stereotypes of the nobel savage or the naive, gentle Indian (I would have been appalled if he had!).

The story itself is quite interesting. Despite the unfortunate circumstances Squanto lived a well-traveled and interesting life. He also must have been incredibly intelligent as he spoke several languages. He was also able to move between cultures with some ease, although I’m sure there was great prejudice.

I have yet to find a good Thanksgiving book that gives the European side of the story, which is not covered here. I’m sure there is one out there, but I will have to do more research. Instead pair this with The Perfect Thanksgiving which celebrates families that aren’t perfect and Molly’s Pilgrim, a great take on what it means to be a pilgrim and immigrant.
" said.

"This picture book biography of Tisquantum (Squanto) by renowned Native American children's author Joseph Bruchac presents the fascinating, often tragic and heartbreaking story of Squanto's abduction and subsequent enslavement in Spain, his long journey back from Europe to North America, only to find that his people, the Patuxet, had been decimated by sickness, to finally, his essential and historic role in helping the Plymouth Colony settlers survive in the so-called New World (what to plant, how to plant, Squanto's role as peacemaker and interpreter).

But while I most certainly have much enjoyed reading Squanto's Journey, I do have to wonder how well it actually works as a picture book. The author's presented narrative is quite dense and involved, and while the glossary at the back is indeed most appreciated, in my opinion, it would have been much better and useful to have the terms from the glossary also explained within the text proper, perhaps with footnotes (otherwise, one might have to keep flipping back and forth, which can be distracting, and the text already somewhat has that tendency anyway).

And although the first person narrative of Squantos Journey is informative and generally reads flowingly, engagingly, poetically, there is also and unfortunately somewhat of a lack of immediacy and passion present (almost a feeling as though Squanto is not simply relating his story, but is actually presenting more a philosophical lecture, a declamatory sermon or homily). And this lack of emotionality, combined with a kind of iconic grandioseness is then also equally demonstrated and shown by Greg Shed's accompanying illustrations. For while they are lushly descriptive and authentic seeming (and very much adeptly rendered), they also somewhat have the tendency to be a bit overly romanticising (when I reread Squanto's Journey just now, I noticed that many of the depictions of Native Americans, but of Squanto especially, are somehow glowing and shining, that there is almost an aura of strangely religious spirituality depicted).

Now I do very much appreciate the fact that both author and illustrator, that both Joseph Bruchac and Greg Shed, have obviously done a substantial amount of research, and I for one (even with the potential issues mentioned above) have indeed and massively enjoyed both narrative and author's note, as well as the accompanying illustrations (and actually, truth be told, I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the author's note even more than the text itself, more than the narrative of Squanto's Journey). However, Bruchac really should have included a list of works cited, of works he consulted for research purposes (a bibliography). And perhaps even more importantly, the author's note should also and absolutely have mentioned that Tisquantum is and continues to be very much a controversial figure for many Native Americans (he is actually considered somewhat of a traitor by some, if not even many Native Americans and while I do NOT think this information should have necessarily been included within the text itself, it is nevertheless an important and essential piece of information that really should have been part and parcel to Bruchac's otherwise excellent and informative author's note).

Recommended for older children above the ages of nine or even ten, as the narrative is substantial, dense, with much potentially novel vocabulary, not to mention that Squanto's Journey will also likely, and actually should (must) engender questions, discussions, debates and additional research (Squanto's Journey would be a good teaching resource for a unit on Thanksgiving or Native American history, another reason why I think a bibliography should have been included, as it would have very much increased the books' s teaching and learning value).
" said.

January 2018 New Book:

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