Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pocahontas and Captain John Smith

You can’t be a collector of old books for very long without running across a title from the Landmark Books series.  I’ve been fortunate enough to run across quite a few—in fact I could rename this series 52 weeks of Landmark Books. You can read more about the series itself on my new tabbed  Rescued Books  page (where you can also eventually find links to all 52 books in this series).

I almost feel like I’m preaching to the choir sharing about this because homeschoolers have really embraced these books (and frankly kept them out of the landfills).    Case in point is today’s book.  Inside I found stamps from two different elementary schools in my area – and it still ended up in a book sale.  I hate to think what they were clearing shelf space for…but they lost a great “living” book on the history of the Virginia Colony.   So here is book #2 …….

Pocahontas and Captain John Smith: The Story of the Virginia Colony by Marie Lawson ; Illustrated by William Sharp. New York: Random House, 1950.

Actually, the subtitle of the book is perhaps more fitting than the actual title.  It begins with John Cabot claiming England’s share of the New World in 1497, continues on to Elizabeth’s grant to Raleigh in 1585 and touches on the lost colony of Roanoke before we’re ever introduced to the robust Captain.

In chapter Six we finally reach the familiar story of the Indian princess sparing the life of the English Captain by placing her own head on his.  (Do they even cover that in schoolbooks anymore or just assume it’s covered in the Disney movie?) By chapter 13 Smith was returned to England in hopes of recovering from an explosion (which he did).  In Ch. 16, Pocahontas returns to the forefront with her marriage to John Rolfe and travel to England.  Then the pace really quickens—up to Bacon’s Rebellion(1676) and the renaming of the capital to Williamsburg (1698).

There’s very little dialogue throughout the book.  What there is is purely conjecture, but rings true:  Captain Smith would probably have asked his captors “Where are we going?” and someone likely shouted “Water on the Fort!” when a fire spreads through Jamestown.  The book is honest enough to say no exact records exist of Smith’s negotiations with the Nansemond tribe and that sources disagree on whether Pocahontas met Smith when she was in England.  I studied quite a bit of Virginia’s history from original source documents leading up to the 400th anniversary of the colony and didn’t discover anything in the book that was inaccurate.


Sarah Coller said...

I love this! I rescue books too and rerelease them through BookCrossing. I noticed your blog as I was scrolling through my list of Twitter's suggested people to follow---because you mentioned living in MO and we just moved to NW Arkansas! Glad I stopped by...I'll be back!


Missouri Mama said...

Sarah, always nice to hear from a kindred spirit (as a book lover, I'm sure you know the reference).

Dalynn McCoy said...

What a fun find! I love finding great books like this, and wonder as you did what they thought would be a better replacement. Thanks for linking up with 52 Weeks series! Have a blessed week!

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