Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thanksgiving Books: Squanto

All the First Thanksgiving books discuss Squanto and his relationship with the Pilgrims.  These selections provide more information on him as a person and his role in the colonist’ first year in Plymouth. 

Squanto’s Journey (ages 6-11) by Joseph Bruchac
Written from the perspective of Squanto himself, his life before the Pilgrims came to Plymouth is described.   Despite being sold into slavery twice and returning to find his whole tribe wiped out, he still desires peace between the European settlers and the Indians.  When the Pilgrims arrive, he urges Samoset (an Indian leader) to establish a friendly relationship with them.  The rest of the narrative beautifully depicts Squanto’s relationship with the Pilgrims and his crucial help to them.  

Why I Chose It:  The illustrations are gorgeous.  Of all the books I read, Squanto’s Journey is the only one written through the first-person perspective of Squanto which reveals how the Indians viewed European trader and settlers America.  The narrative emphasizes that Squanto was not just essential in helping the Pilgrims learn how to farm and to hunt but also to live at peace (at least initially) with the neighboring Indians.  *Best Option for Older Students
Squanto and the First Thanksgiving (ages 4-8) by Teresa Celsi
The narrative begins with the Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock.  Squanto makes friends with the Pilgrims and teaches them to plant, hunt, and fish.  He also helps them to communicate with the neighboring Indians.  As result of all of Squanto’s help and the abundant blessings, the two groups come together to give thanks to the Lord and to Squanto.  

Why I Chose It:  Squanto and the First Thanksgiving is a good introduction to the famous Indian.  It focuses solely on his interaction with the Pilgrims their first year at Plymouth.  *Best Option for Younger Students
Squanto and the First Thanksgiving (ages 4-8) Joyce Kessel
This early reader describes the life of Squanto before the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock.  Some original explorers to the area take him (and other Indians) back to Europe as slaves.   Eventually, he is set free.  He comes back to the New World with John Smith only to be recaptured by a greedy sailor and taken back to Spain.  Squanto lives with Catholic monks that teach him the Christian faith.  The monks send him back to America where Squanto finds his whole tribe has been wiped out by Small Pox.  Fortunately, he is able to join another area tribe.  The last section of the book describes how Squanto becomes part of the English settlement of the Pilgrims.  

Why I Chose It:  This biography does an excellent job explaining Squanto’s life before and after the Pilgrims arrived.  The pictures are adequate, but I like this book for independent early readers or for younger students to listen to.   *Best Option for Young Independent Readers 

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