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“At Plymouth, the Pilgrims found the freedom they sought. They also found sadness, hunger, and death. But they never gave up. Their great adventure has become a symbol of the American Spirit,” Mary Pope Osborne. —Pilgrims
The Magic Tree House Fact Tracker
by Mary Pope Osborne & Natalie Pope Boyce
After Jack and Annie’s feast in Magic Tree House #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday, the pair was still hungry for more information about the Pilgrims’ history. When they go to the library to research, they are flooded with stories, illustrations, and facts that help them better understand life in the 1600s. Pilgrims gives readers more information about the history by introducing readers to historical figures such as William Bradford, the governor who led the Pilgrims, along with familiar faces like Squanto and Priscilla Alden. By reading Pilgrims, readers can follow Jack and Annie as they find the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving.
The non-fiction story follows the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe from the first meeting to the first Thanksgiving feast. There are many connections between Pilgrims and Thanksgiving on Thursday. For example, in Thanksgiving on Thursday Jack and Annie learn how Squanto helped the Pilgrims grow crops by using rotting fish. Pilgrims goes into more detail about this as well as the other actions Squanto did to help them. On the other hand, Squanto lies about the Pilgrims to create tension which causes the two groups’ problems.
The first couple of chapters explain the impact religion had on the people leaving England as well as their many months on the Mayflower. Black-and-white illustrations appear on almost every page and include historical people and places as well as props to reenact scenes and show examples. One of the illustrations gives an inside look at the Mayflower, which helps the reader better understand the close quarters the Pilgrims lived in for months. Illustrations also show the clothing that both the Native Americans and Pilgrims wore. Along with the illustrations, there are many pictures of historical people.
Pilgrims is packed with information that is easily digestible for young readers. There are many tools to help a young audience follow along. For example, each chapter is broken into small sections that give historical information. Plus, the illustrations break up text into much smaller pieces and some pages only have an image. The tribe’s name, Wampanoag, is explained. “Today we know them as the Wampanoag (wahm-puh-NO-ag) Nation. This means ‘People of the First Light’ or ‘People of the East.’ They were hunters, gatherers, farmers, and fishermen.” Also, complicated words like “Patuxet”, and “moccasins” are sounded out, (puh-TUX-it) and (MOCK-uh-sinz), and explained to expand vocabulary. Readers will find it interesting to learn the difference between the original Thanksgiving meal versus today’s Thanksgiving meal, and they will find humor in the faces Jack makes when he tries the unsweetened cranberry sauce.
Pilgrims presents nonfiction information in a way that will engage young readers. Adults can use Pilgrims as a conversation starter because the Pilgrims’ journey was not only the start of a holiday with delicious food but also the start of a nation. The book is perfect for readers who are interested in doing research because the author includes the best way to research Pilgrims as well as more resources such as books, videos, and museums. Pilgrims is packed full of historical information that is fun to read. Whether it is for research or for fun, reading Pilgrims will delight those who love Thanksgiving. Readers who are interested in learning more about the Pilgrims’ journey should also read The Voyage of the Mayflower by Allison Lassieur. Those who are ready to jump into another imaginative story based on the Mayflower should add Mayflower Treasure Hunt by Ron Roy to their must-read list.
- A section of the book is titled “Cruel Treatment” which describes some ways the Pilgrims and native people treated each other. “Sometimes the strangers [Pilgrims] treated the Native People badly. They shot at them without reason. They stole their corn and furs. Sometimes they even captured them and sold them into slavery.” There is also non-physical cruelty explained too. “Too often, Native People died from diseases the newcomers brought…Their bodies had no way to fight the new infections. Whole villages were wiped out. Later more settlers arrive. They forced the Native People from their lands. Farms and towns grew where native villages once stood.”
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- The term “Separatists” is explained and sometimes used to describe the individuals who “separated for the Church of England.” This group took the trip on the Mayflower because they wanted the freedom of religion and “the Separatists wanted to worship their own way.”
- The Mayflower Compact explains how the Pilgrims governed themselves during their time on the Mayflower. The compact said, “The people were united in their belief in God.”
- Once the Mayflower reached land, the individuals on board “felt their prayers had been answered. They fell to their knees and gave thanks.”
- After Squanto helps the pilgrims, “they were so grateful to him, they called him ‘an instrument of God.’”
- The first Thanksgiving is described as, “a harvest festival. The 50 surviving Pilgrims met to praise God for their good fortune.”
- A section is titled “Church” and explains that many of the Pilgrims came on the Mayflower to “worship as they wished.” Also, it is revealed there was no physical Church, only a room, and Sunday was a day no one worked or played but rested.