4.2 5
by Jane Yolen, David Shannon

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When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, what he discovered were the Taino Indians. Told from a young Taino boy’s point of view, this is a story of how the boy tried to warn his people against welcoming the strangers, who seemed more interested in golden ornaments than friendship. Years later the boy, now an old man, looks back at…  See more details below


When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, what he discovered were the Taino Indians. Told from a young Taino boy’s point of view, this is a story of how the boy tried to warn his people against welcoming the strangers, who seemed more interested in golden ornaments than friendship. Years later the boy, now an old man, looks back at the destruction of his people and their culture by the colonizers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW's starred review described this "stirring" book as a look at the dark underside of Christopher Columbus's adventure. "The message is blunt but the language in which it is couched is vintage Yolen, lyrical and impassioned. Shannon's visionary style is an ideal complement." Also available in a Spanish-language edition, Encuentro ($6, -201342-3). Ages 6-12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
This children's picture book tells about the encounter of the Taino people with Columbus. The story is told from the point of view of a small Taino boy frightened by three dream birds who come to him in sleep. When he wakes, he finds three "great canoes" anchored off the shores of his island and tries to warn his chief. He is ignored and the the strangers are welcomed, much to everyone's eventual sorrow. Yolen may believe that she envisioned life through the eyes of a Taino boy, but the feelings she attributes to him run counter to Taino society. To explain why the boy is ignored, she repeats five or six times, "I was but a child." This makes the story gain power, but it is based on a European, not an Indian model of society. Indian society is built on mutual respect . Yolen's word choices are another slap in the face. She talks of how the Indians "gave" their souls, or "took" European words, as if the victims were to blame. Encounter may have been well-intentioned, but I wonder why it wasn't reviewed before publication by an organization familiar with the culture, such as OYATE. The book is an overly-sentimental, off-kilter story and one more betrayal to Native people. Its half-truths make it more insidious than books that have obvious misrepresentations.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Ms. Yolen has written a fictional story, in picture book format, about the arrival of the Spaniards as observed by a young Taino boy. He is frightened and tries to share his fears with the elders but no one listens. This story is both lyrical and powerful in text and paintings.
School Library Journal
Gr 2 - 5-- Readers weary of materials celebrating Columbus and his voyages will be refreshed and intrigued by this thought-provoking picture book. The imaginative story examines the first meeting between Columbus and the indigenous peoples of San Salvador (the Taino) through the eyes of a young native boy. The unnamed narrator has been warned in an ominous dream that the strangers may bring trouble to his people. His concerns are ignored, however, and the Taino greet their guests with customary feasting and gifts, only to be repaid by the abduction of several of their young people. Taken among the captives, the boy escapes and slowly makes his way home, trying to convince others along the way that the Spanish pose a threat, but to no avail. Yolen acknowledges in an author's note that no record of the Tainos' reaction to Columbus's arrival is available; this account is instead an evocative imagining of how things might have been. The haunting story is perfectly complemented by Shannon's powerful acrylic paintings. He mentions that, in fact, the Taino did not wear clothing, but feels that his decision to clothe them does not interfere with the plausibility or effectiveness of his presentation. A book that offers readers an alternative perspective on a well-known and much-celebrated historical event. --Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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Encounter 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
NahvilleReader More than 1 year ago
The story is great for teaching point of view and the coming of explorers to North America. I use this book every year in my social studies unit. The illustrations are beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am appalled at the review that said children under 4th grade should not read this book because they wouldn't understand the meaning and the pictures are dark and disturbing. It's that mentality that prevents children from experiencing good literature. I find this book a wonderful way to discuss with children different perspectives of who Christopher Columbus is. I am all about educating my children, I don't withhold information or "sugar coat" things. Maybe that is why my second grade son is an advanced thinker for his age. He understands that the world isn't always so nice and you know what? He accepts it and thinks of ways to solve society's problems, instead of covering his ears and hiding from them. We need children to be aware of issues like this, because it happens all over the world and hopefully they will make a difference when they become adults.
Sugarlump More than 1 year ago
A Taino Indian boy on the island of San Salvador wakes up from a very frightening dream. In it he sees three enormous, sharp-toothed, seabirds. Once awake the boy goes down to the beach and there, just offshore are three enormous sailing ships disgorging boats and men onto the beach. The chief of the people is ready to welcome the strangers with gifts and food. The boy tries to convince him not to welcome the strange-looking men. He is sure they mean him and his people harm. The boy is dismissed as a child who has bad dreams and the people welcome and feast the strange bird-people. For a short time during the feast the boy forgets his fears, but then he watches the strangers closely and notices their interest in his people's gold jewelry. The greed he sees in their eyes reminds him of his dream and he returns to trying to warn his people. No one will listen to the boy. The adults are fascinated by the stranger's fine clothes and weapons. When the bird-people leave they take gold and a few young men, including the boy, with them. After some days aboard their ship he slips into the water and returns to his people where he continues to warn against the bird-people. Finally, we see the boy as an old man still sitting on the beach, but his people are dying and their land has been taken from them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a literature teacher, I highly recommmend this book to students fourth-seventh grade. The illustrations are are a feast for thought, showing how sea travel affected the sailors emotionally and physically, as well as the loss felt by the Taino boy. Very well done! Refreshingly unique, as it is written from the boy's point of view. Jane Yolen's thought provoking book is definitely a must read aloud book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was required to read this book for my emergent literacy class. I think as far as enlightening people to some things that actually happned when Columbus arrives it is a great book. However, I don't think that children under 4th grade should be reading this book. Most children will not be able to understand the meaning the the words and the pictures are very dark and at times may be disturbing.