No one told Thomas Savage that life in the New World would be so hard. The colonists suffer through harsh conditions, little food, and a lot of fighting. Then Thomas is asked to live with the Algonquian Indians to learn their language and become an interpreter. But when things turn sour between the English and the natives, Thomas is stuck in the middle. Can he keep the peace?
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Acclaimed biographer, Jean Fritz, was born in China where she lived until the age of thirteen. She tells her story in Homesick, My Own Story, a Newbery Honor Book. Ms Fritz is the author of forty-five books for children and young people. Many center on historical American figures, gaining her a reputation as the premier author of biographies for children and young people. Among the prestigious awards Ms. Fritz has garnered are: a medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture, a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, an American Book Award, a Christopher Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Non-Fiction Award, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and many ALA Notable Books of the Year, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, and ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice Awards.
Grade 3–5—Thomas Savage, 13, accompanies Captain Christopher Newport on his second sailing from England to Jamestown, arriving in the "New World" in January 1608. Newport and John Smith give Thomas to the Native American leader Powhatan and ask the boy to learn the language and act as an interpreter. As tensions between the English and the Native people mount, Thomas's position becomes precarious. Eventually he goes to Virginia's Eastern Shore and becomes one of the first white landowners there. Fritz usually writes nonfiction, but she could not find a great deal of factual information about Savage's life. She says in her foreword, "Without documentary evidence of what went on in Thomas' mind, I have to call this book historical fiction." However, she seems reluctant to commit to the genre and, as a result, Thomas is not a fully realized character. Sentences that include "perhaps" or "he may have" preserve historical accuracy, but serve to distance readers from the action. The charcoal drawings were "colorized on a computer, printed onto stipple paper, and finished with acrylic paints," a process that gives the colors depth and texture. However, the depiction of the Native people does not fit historical descriptions from the period. Instead of looking intimidating, all the Natives appear avuncular and unthreatening. There are no shaved or partially shaved heads; no face or body paint in evidence. The whole book has a somewhat old-fashioned feel to it. However, libraries looking to expand their resources for Jamestown's 400th anniversary may want to include this title in their collections.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
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Book Description Puffin, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0142414018
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