John Smith Escapes Again!

John Smith Escapes Again!

by Rosalyn Schanzer
     
 

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Long before Harry Houdini thrilled the world with his impossible deeds, America had produced an escape artist whose biography reads like an adventure novel.

Many readers will know John Smith as the man rescued from death by Pocahontas, but Smith's story included a series of fantastic episodes: escape from imprisonment, ambush by Indians, attacks by ruthless sea

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Overview

Long before Harry Houdini thrilled the world with his impossible deeds, America had produced an escape artist whose biography reads like an adventure novel.

Many readers will know John Smith as the man rescued from death by Pocahontas, but Smith's story included a series of fantastic episodes: escape from imprisonment, ambush by Indians, attacks by ruthless sea pirates, and more escapades than seem possible in one life.

Now, just in time for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, author Rosalyn Schanzer recounts the full details of John Smith's eventful life in her engaging storytelling style, complemented with a series of entertaining illustrations.

Smith's role as the president of the pioneering colony of Jamestown is well known to schoolchildren. Schanzer's compelling narrative adds the perspective of Smith's English background to his better known adventures in America. Readers are given a complete portrait of the intrepid explorer and adventurer, of the fighter whose battling spirit always prevailed, and of the writer whose work was to shape the idea of the American Dream.

Smith's story is punctuated by several impossibly daring escapes. His final escape left us with the rich legacy of his life story: through his writings, he escaped the fate of dying unknown. He returned to England as a poor man with a rich trove of memories, spending his final years writing the popular books that defined colonial America in tales of excitement and courage.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The lore of Captain John Smith extends far beyond the familiar Pocahontas story, as Schanzer (How We Crossed the West) attests in this vivid, extensively documented biography of the 17th-century explorer. Her inventive chronological format alternately expands and condenses Smith's feats and far-flung journeys, as she describes his numerous death-defying escapes (e.g., from shipwrecks, Turkish slave masters and Native American warriors). Interspersed between chapters (with titles such as "Escape Number One: Our Hero Is Tossed into the Briny Deep and Becomes a Pirate"), spreads appear that feature a map of Smith's travels on the left with numbers that correspond to captioned panel illustrations on the right. Schanzer offsets the formal borders with the cartoonlike artwork within; a smiling, ruddy-cheeked Smith often winks or waves at readers, even as a baby. Yet the cheery illustrative style belies the often harsh nature of Smith's experiences, such as the time he was brutally beaten as a slave near the Black Sea or when Native Americans burn one of his fellow explorers at the stake (depicted in a small spot illustration). The author indeed accomplishes her aim of showing that "this swashbuckling Englishman was a heroic warrior,... a daring world explorer, a president, a mapmaker, a peacekeeper" and finally an author. Schanzer indicates in endnotes that she bases her account on Smith's own writings. Students of history will most appreciate the new light shed on this plucky voyager, but adventure fans will also be swept up in his escapades. Ages 9-14. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
A very attractive format invites the reader to discover why John Smith was "probably the greatest escape artist on the planet" during the early 17th century. Best known for being saved by Pocahontas, there is so much more to this man's life. Through maps, small panels that provide many fascinating facts about his life, and longer sections accompanied by larger illustrations, the reader learns some details about his childhood, how he lost his money and became a pirate, how he escaped from slavery and journeyed to America, how he dealt with the Indians, became president of the Jamestown colony, and traveled to Plymouth Colony. The small frames, with dates, a brief amount of text, and an illustration with a great deal of research behind it will help readers remember the facts. The lively tone of the well-focused, succinct text will have the readers eager to turn the pages. The action-packed illustrations are bright and cleanly drawn and provide a sense of time, place, and the culture of the region. The map on the end papers is significant to the text and will be a problem for libraries that cover the book jackets and tape them to the book. Part of the map will be covered. Perhaps another way can be found to attach the jacket. There are smaller, more detailed maps within the pages of the book. A note from the author includes information on her research for both the text and illustrations in this 64 page biography. There is a bibliography and an index in the back. It is immensely informative, inviting, and inspirational.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Schanzer introduces a man whose life experiences went far beyond Colonial America. At age 16, he volunteered to go to the Netherlands and fight Catholic Spain. He traveled around Europe making stops in France, Scotland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Transylvania, and Greece. He sailed on a pirate ship, was stranded on a desert island, and was almost drowned a few times. These adventures were all before his trips to America. Schanzer has done extensive research for both her text and her engaging cartoon illustrations. Children will be delighted by the tidbits she has included, such as some Native American men wearing live snakes in their pierced ears. The detailed drawings of Smith's many routes provide an excellent opportunity for practicing map-reading skills, although the small size of some of the art makes the book better suited for individual reading than for group sharing. A great choice for all collections.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780792259312
Publisher:
National Geographic Society
Publication date:
10/10/2006
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
8.52(w) x 10.76(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Rosalyn Schanzer is the award-winning author and illustrator of numerous books for children. She lives in Fairfax Station, Virginia.

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