Blood on the River: James Town 1607

Blood on the River: James Town 1607

4.2 104
by Elisa Carbone
     
 

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Twelve-year-old Samuel Collier is a lowly commoner on the streets of London. So when he becomes the page of Captain John Smith and boards the ship the Susan Constant, bound for the New World, he can’t believe his good fortune. He’s heard that gold washes ashore with every tide. But beginning with the stormy journey and his first contact with the native

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Overview

Twelve-year-old Samuel Collier is a lowly commoner on the streets of London. So when he becomes the page of Captain John Smith and boards the ship the Susan Constant, bound for the New World, he can’t believe his good fortune. He’s heard that gold washes ashore with every tide. But beginning with the stormy journey and his first contact with the native people, he realizes that the New World is nothing like he had ever imagined.The lush Virginia shore where they establish the colony of James Town is both beautiful and forbidding, and it’s hard to know who’s a friend or foe. As he learns the language of the Algonquin Indians and observes Captain Smith’s wise diplomacy, Samuel begins to see that he can be whomever he wants to be in this new land.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lively historical fiction at its best." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Samuel’s account of the voyage to Virginia, political intrigues among the settlers, and the harrowing first winter of the James Town settlement brings to life figures like Smith, Powhatan, and Pocahontas. Details about food and daily life add realism to the story, and quotes from historical sources begin each chapter." -School Library Journal, starred review

Children's Literature
Plucked from an orphanage to serve Captain John Smith on his voyage to the New World, eleven-year-old Samuel Collier finds that the aggressive energy that served him well on London's streets is equally helpful for surviving the rigors of the Atlantic crossing and England's new colony on the Virginia shores. From his new master he learns that the independence he once prized is less valuable than the ability to get along with others, to work together to accomplish difficult tasks. Closely based on historical fact, this story of the early years of the James Town Colony comes to life through the eyes of this engaging character. Written in response to teacher requests, this is not simply supplemental curricular material. Carbone paces her story well, creating dramatic suspense and a clear sense of place through the use of vivid sensory detail. The irony of Samuel's early fear of native "cannibals" is made clear in the afterword, in which we learn that while Samuel was surviving the winter of 1609 in relative safety at Point Comfort, using some of the survival skills he learned from Powhatan Indians, those who remained at James Town were digging up graves for food. This is an adventure story, a coming-of-age story, and living history. In a concluding note the author describes her research and appends a list of sources. Entertaining and informative, this is a welcome addition to any historical fiction collection. 2006, Viking, Ages 10 to 14.
—Kathleen Isaacs
VOYA
This meticulously researched novel depicts the early history of Virginia's Jamestown colony from the viewpoint of Captain John Smith's eleven-year-old page, Samuel Collier. Carbone creates Samuel, a historical figure of unknown origin, as a London orphan convicted of thievery but saved from the gallows by a good-hearted magistrate who gives him into the care of the kindly Reverend Hunt. Hunt later passes Samuel on to Smith when Hunt, with the aim of bringing Christianity to the natives, joins the Jamestown expedition. Under the harsh colonial conditions and with mentoring from Smith and Hunt, Samuel, the street-tough loner, learns the value of cooperation and, in the end, risks his life to save those he has come to love. The characters are sufficiently well drawn to sustain reader interest in the plot, but it is the portrayal of colonial life that is the book's primary strength. Young readers will relish hearing of the slop buckets and vomit in the ship's hold and the exhumation and consumption of corpses by starving settlers. The "gentleman" colonists' rejection of manual labor, the fruitless search for gold, the stupid treatment of the native population, and the Virginia Company's efforts to ensure that no word of New World hardships reaches England, possibly discouraging the labor flow, all engage the imagination. School and public libraries will find that this book circulates best among historical fiction buffs and the cover, two feather-bedecked braves spying on the colony, may also attract adventure fans, especially boys. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Viking, 256p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Mary E. Heslin
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-After attempting to steal back a necklace that belonged to his deceased mother, Samuel Collier is sent to an orphanage run by Reverend Hunt. The 11-year-old joins him on a journey to the New World, serving as a page to Captain John Smith. Samuel's account of the voyage to Virginia, political intrigues among the settlers, and the harrowing first winter of the James Town settlement brings to life figures like Smith, Powhatan, and Pocahontas. Details about food and daily life add realism to the story, and quotes from historical sources begin each chapter. This Samuel is more conflicted than the one in Gail Langer Karwoski's Surviving Jamestown: The Adventures of Young Sam Collier (Peachtree, 2001). His initial selfishness changes as he responds to the reverend, to Smith, and to his new friends. His time in an Indian village and his changing perspectives on the Natives add interest to the story and depth to his character. While the opening chapters move slowly, the pace picks up as Samuel reaches Virginia. This title is a good choice for a tie-in with the 400th anniversary celebrations of Jamestown in 2007.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lucky to escape the gallows but doomed to servitude in the New World, young Samuel Collier instead finds adventure and a chance to remake himself, away from the streets and orphanages he has known. Carbone frames her story of the Jamestown settlement by the Powhatan prophecy foretelling the destruction of the Powhatan kingdom. The clash of cultures bringing about that destruction is well portrayed, as is the personal class between the gentlemen of the Virginia Company and the commoner Captain John Smith. Good use is made of eyewitness accounts in a telling that far transcends the usual dry textbook summaries of the period. While learning much history, readers will find characters real enough to care about: Ten-year-old Pocahontas racing naked through the center of the fort, Samuel mastering the bow and arrow and shooting his first rabbit, the magic of a New World masquerade in Pocahontas's village, where Samuel sits next to a princess. Lively historical fiction at its best. (afterword, author's note, acknowledgments, sources) (Fiction. 10 )

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670060603
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
05/04/2006
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.89(w) x 8.57(h) x 0.88(d)
Lexile:
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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From the Publisher

"Lively historical fiction at its best." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Samuel’s account of the voyage to Virginia, political intrigues among the settlers, and the harrowing first winter of the James Town settlement brings to life figures like Smith, Powhatan, and Pocahontas. Details about food and daily life add realism to the story, and quotes from historical sources begin each chapter." -School Library Journal, starred review

Meet the Author

Elisa Carbone lives in Maryland and West Virginia.

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