September 8, 2011

Blood on the River: Jamestown, 1607 - by Elisa Carbone

For lovers of historical fiction, this is a fantastic introduction to the story of Jamestown, the first English settlement what would become America.  It is a nuanced story of survival, following the course of Samuel, a young boy who joined the expedition to the New World as a servant to one of the trip's leaders, leaving behind his life of poverty in London.  As the story progresses, Samuel approaches each new discovery with an open mind and a kind heart, which is more than can be said for many of the Virginia Company's leaders, and when trouble strikes, it is Samuel's quick thinking that helps save the day.

This book is historically accurate, with many true-to-life characters (Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, and many others), but there is plenty of fiction to keep the story moving along and add mystery and excitement. The author did meticulous research, and this book does a nice job of showing how both the settlers and the natives experienced and viewed the clash of their two cultures.  The story of Jamestown is not really a happy one, as any readers of history know, and this book does not shy away from the gruesome truth of the settlers' plight, but the author provides plenty of hope and heart, and the story is a positive one in the end.

Thank you to my fellow fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Frye for recommending this to me again and again!

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