Joseph Bruchac, author
Greg Shed, illustrator
Silver Whistle – Harcourt, Inc., Historical Fiction, 2000
Suitable for: Ages 6-12
Themes: Squanto, Wampanoag Indians, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, Survival
Opening/Synopsis: “My story is both strange and true. I was born in the year the English call 1590. My family were leaders of the Patuxet people and I, too, was raised to lead. But in 1614 I was taken to Spain against my will. Now it is 1621 and I am again in my homeland. My name is Squanto, I would like to tell you my tale.” Squanto plays a key role in bringing peace between the Indians and the English settlers who arrived in Plymouth. The settlers were not prepared for the harsh challenges they faced. Squanto taught them ways of the living on the land so that they could plant crops, hunt, fish and prepare for the winter. When the autumn arrived they celebrated the good harvest with a feast for all. Squanto’s tribe worked with the settlers to help them survive.
Why I like this book: The story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is known to children. Author Joseph Bruchac tells the story from the Native American perspective in first person. Squanto ( Tisquantum) was captured by the British, taken to Spain as a slave where he escaped and found his way back home to New England. He was the first Native American Indian to live in the European and Indian world. The author’s research is thorough and he spent many years among the Native American tribe. He wrote this fascinating and inspiring account of how Squanto taught the Pilgrims to survive the harsh New World. Greg Shed’s research took him to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA, where he studied the landscape, and buildings and settlement so he could capture the authenticity in his bold and beautiful illustrations.
Resources: There is an informative Author’s Note at the end. The Plimoth Plantation has a wonderful section “Just for Kids,” where children can learn to talk like a Pilgrim, take a virtual Thanksgiving field trip sponsored by Scholastic, and work with materials for reports and coloring pages. Click here to view a short video on the Plimoth Plantation produced by the History Channel.