It’s no secret that one of my favorite book collection is the Winston Adventure Books. It doesn’t get the attention of homeschoolers like the Landmark books but I always think of the motto “We’re number 2 so we try harder” (was that from an old commercial?). It’s only fitting that this less publicized series deal with important, but less publicized events. Take today’s book…before there was Plymouth, MA and even before there was Jamestown, VA there was a struggling little colony known as Roanoke ---and it totally disappeared! To this day, no one can say for certain what happened to the 100+ men and women left there in 1587.
Lost Colony: The Mystery of Roanoke Island. Bothwell, Jean, and Edward F. Cortese (Illus.) . Philadelphia: Winston, 1953. 182 pp.
Of course this is a fictionalized account since we don’t know what happened to the colonists. The author as much as says so in the introduction. She chose to focus the story on one child –Thomas Humphey (spelled Humfrey in actual records). There are no adults with that surname so Bothwell makes him a runaway who chose to leave court life in England for the chance of adventure with his friends Ananias & Eleanor Dare (the mother of the first European born in the New World).
Thomas’s new companion is George Howe (another real colonist). In addition, Thomas interacts with two Native Americans: Manteo is a Croatan, a friendly tribe and Towaye who resents the arrival of the English. His tribe had been burnt out by the Governor of an even earlier English colony who’d believe they’d been responsible for stealing a silver cup.
Before Gov. White sails back to England the cup is found and the granddaughter Virginia is born. It becomes clear that a showdown is looming between Thomas and Towaye. Thomas recovers the silver cup (you won’t believe who stole it) and offers to send it back to England to restore the honor of Towaye’s people but the warrior rebukes the gesture of friendship. He still seeks revenge on the whole colony as a vote is taken on whether they should leave the island to join Manteo’s tribe.
Winston Adventure Books are hard to come by, but I managed to pick this copy up at a YMCA book sale. I wouldn’t give this book to my son and log it as “history” but if we’re studying Roanoke anyway, this book may tweak his interest in the mystery of the Lost Colony.
You can see all my rescued books by clicking here.