This blog is a continuation of a class assignment for the TWU course 5603, Literature for Children and Young Adults. Subsequent entries are for TWU course 5653, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. The new entries are for TWU course 5663, Poetry for Children and Young Adults.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Squanto’s Journey The Story of the First Thanksgiving

Squanto’s Journey
The Story of the First Thanksgiving
By Joseph Bruchac
Illustrated by Greg Shed

cover image retrieved October 30, 2012 from

Bruchac, Joseph, and Greg Shed. Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving. San Diego: Silver Whistle, 2000. ISBN-13: 9780152060442

Told in first person, Squanto’s Journey relates the story of the First Thanksgiving from the Native American point of view. Squanto explains how he came to speak and understand English, and his hope that the English settlers and Natives could live peacefully together. A respecter of the land and all that is in it, Squanto gently shares his hope that, just as the “three sisters” beans, squash, and corn, live intertwined together, so will the people now inhabiting the land of his people.

Analytical Review:
Joseph Bruchac makes a great effort to be culturally authentic in his retelling of the story of the First Thanksgiving, this time from the point of view of the Native Americans. Bruchac states in the Author’s Note at the end of the book, “…being Indian does not mean that you automatically know about all things Native American. Whenever I tell a story that comes from another Native nation, it is my responsibility to hear the living voices of those Native people.” Bruchac seems to have done his homework, since this picture book overflows with cultural authenticity.

Patuxet language is sprinkled throughout the pages. Terms are well defined through context clues as they are used, but a glossary is also included, if needed by the reader.  The importance of understanding the language of a different people group is evident in the conversations between the Natives and the English settlers. The Natives understood that language is a natural link to a people group. They used Samoset, Squanto, and other Natives who spoke English to communicate with the English and build a relationship with them. Bruchac nicely draws that connection without being obvious or preachy.

The gorgeous watercolors by George Shed add depth and richness to this tale. Authentic clothing and habitation scenes transport the reader to the reality of this time period. In the author’s note Mr. Bruchac explains that he researched these aspects closely, to write about them accurately. The clothing details of the Pilgrims, in particular, had to be adjusted from the way they are traditionally, but inaccurately depicted.

Readers seeking a more legitimate version of the story of the First Thanksgiving will find what they are looking for here. Written for upper elementary, this book is appropriate there, or at any level where authenticity matters.

School Library Journal    Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY
A picture book that focuses on the young Indian who helped the Pilgrims survive the brutality of the New England winter. Many authors have given the Native American credit for his role in the survival of the colony. What distinguishes this first-person account is the authenticity of detail. In his author's note, Bruchac describes the research that he used to flesh out the story with dates and names. There is a richness of detail in the pictures that echoes the passion for historical accuracy in costume and interior-and-exterior dwellings.

The Horn Book
Told with respect and dignity.      

History from the Native American viewpoint.     

Awards/Best Books Lists:
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2001 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2001 ; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States

·      Students will select one of the beautiful watercolor illustrations in the book. Students will compose a haiku inspired by this illustration.
·      Students will examine the glossary at the end of the book. Students will find three other terms in the book that are not defined in the glossary, and create a glossary entry for those terms.
·      Students will pair this picture book with the novel      which also tells the story of the first Thanksgiving. Students will create a double bubble graphic organizer showing similarities and differences between these accounts of the first Thanksgiving.
·      After learning more about the first Thanksgiving from this picture book and other sources, students will create a graphic story telling the events through comic book-style illustrations and conversation bubbles.
·      Young students will love the beautiful watercolor paintings in this picture book. Encourage readers of all ages to “read” the story through the pictures only the first time through the book. Then go back and compare the written story to the one students came up with when viewing the pictures. Discuss:  What picture clues lead you to the story you told? How are picture clues similar to context clues?

Social Studies:
·      Students will created a KWL chart about the Pilgrim’s first colony at Plymouth and the Native American tribes that lived in that region. After completing the chart, students will learn more about life in New England at the time of the early colonization by Europeans by viewing History Channel video clips “Wampanoag Living Recreated” at ; and “Plimouth Plantation’s Authenticity Examined” at  Students will discuss what they learned, and fill in their KWL charts with information learned.

·      Students will research the concept of using dead fish to fertilize crops. Use information from sites such as and Florida Ag in the Classroom at   Students will create a diagram, labeled to explain the process. Students will complete the wrap up activity on the Florida Ag in the Classroom site.

·      Students will create their own watercolor illustration of one aspect of Squanto’s life. Students will write a caption for their illustration. Original creations will be displayed around in the classroom, in chronological order, to retell Squanto’s story.

Other books by Joseph Bruchac:
Picture Books
A Boy Called Slow
Between Earth and Sky
Buffalo Song
Crazy Horse's Vision
The Earth Under Sky Bear’s Feet
The First Strawberries
The Great Ball Game
How Chipmunk Got His Stripes,(with Jim Bruchac)
Jim Thorpe's Bright Path
Makiawisug: Gift of the Little People (with M.Fawcett)
Many Nations
The Maple Thanksgiving
Navajo Long Walk
Raccoon's Last Race(with Jim Bruchac)
Squanto's Journey
13 Moons on Turtle’s Back (with J. London)
Turtle's Race with Beaver (with Jim Bruchac)

Fiction & Non-Fiction
Arrow Over the Door
At the End of Ridge Road
Bowman’s Store
Children of the Longhouse
The Dark Pond
Dawn Land
Dog People, Native Dog Stories
Foot of the Mountain
Eagle Song
The Heart of a Chief
Hidden Roots
Jim Thorpe, Original All American
The Journal of Jesse Smoke
Long River
Keepers of the Earth, (with M. Caduto)
Keepers of the Animals, (with M. Caduto)
Keepers of the Night,(with M. Caduto)
Keepers of Life, (with M. Caduto)
March Toward The Thunder
Native American Games & Stories (with Jim Bruchac)
Native American Gardening (with M. Caduto)
Native Wisdom
Our Stories Remember
The Return of Skeleton Man
Sacajawea, a novel
Seeing the Circle
Skeleton Man
The Trail of Tears
Wabi, A Hero's Tale
The Warriors
The Waters Between
The Way
Whisper in the Dark
The Winter People

Collections of Traditional Stories
The Faithful Hunter
The Girl Who Married the Moon
The Girl Who Helped Thunder
Native American Stories
Heroes and Heroines, Monsters and Magic
Native American Stories
Native American Animal Stories
Native Plant Stories
The Native American Sweat Lodge
Pushing Up the Sky: Seven Plays for Children
Return of the Sun
The Wind Eagle
When the Chenoo Howls (with Jim Bruchac)

Above the Line
No Borders
Translator's Son

No comments:

Post a Comment