First Thanksgiving

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
The story has been told many times, but the author of this "Cornerstones of Freedom" volume does an excellent job of detailing the hardships endured by the Separatists (aka Pilgrims) and, especially, their relationships with native peoples of Massachusetts. The Wampanoag Indians were extraordinarily helpful, but while their assistance enabled the settlers to survive in the new land, within a few generations this tribe had been largely exterminated. Dispelling many misconceptions, the text makes it clear that the first Thanksgiving was not a religious celebration, but more like a harvest festival continuing over three days and including dancing, games, military drill, and athletic contests. Venison contributed by the Wampanoag was probably more relished than the wild turkeys and other wildfowl; cranberries were available, but not the sugar needed to make an edible sauce. Early celebrations in the United States were erratic and not until 1941 did Thanksgiving become an official holiday. In contrast to the quality of the text, the picture selection leaves much to be desired. An editor is forced to rely on prints by later artists, but in too many of these, the clothing of the Native Americans is inaccurate and coloring is inappropriate. Modern day photographs show plump wheat, which is unlikely to be grown in an inhospitable coastal soil, while the turkey pictured is a farm-bred bird with white-tipped tail feathers (wild turkeys are slimmer and have chestnut-tipped feathers). Readers will find the narrative interesting and well-written, but the illustrations may be most useful for discussing their accuracy and inspiring further research. 2003, Children's Press/Scholastic,
—Barbara L.Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Accessing the material in these titles is sometimes challenging since the books lack contents pages and the index entries often refer to glossary terms rather than relevant events or people. Abundant captioned photos or drawings, most in color and others in sepia or single tones, enhance the texts. Thanksgiving contains quotes from primary sources and readers are given vague ideas where they came from, but there are no footnotes to give complete source information, and the maps are not clearly marked. Stein explains that while some of the stories about Allen border on tall tales, the man was a key player in the American War of Independence and participated in events that eventually led to the statehood of Vermont. Information is presented clearly and succinctly. Lewis and Clark gives factual data on the preparations for the journey, the expedition itself, and life for Lewis and Clark after they returned. This title contains more sidebar facts than the other two, which adds additional detail to the accounts. Numerous books are available on these topics, especially Thanksgiving and Lewis and Clark, so consider the need carefully before deciding to purchase these titles.-Kathleen Simonetta, Indian Trails Public Library District, Wheeling, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531208359
  • Publisher: Scholastic Library Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/28/2008
  • Series: Cornerstones of Freedom Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.20 (d)

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