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Children's LiteratureIn 1606, a group of English colonists left England determined to establish a permanent settlement in the New World. Sam Collier, a twelve-year-old page in the service of Master John Smith, was one of them. This book is a fictionalized account of the youngster's life and the challenges that he surely faced as he tried to survive in the harsh new wilderness. Sam fought sickness, hunger, thirst, and occasional marauding Indians during those first years, but he always managed to survive and help others. The story is an inspirational one, but ultimately this book is flat and uninspiring. While the account of Sam and those first colonists is fictionalized in order to make it appealing to a younger audience, the plot is nonexistent. Sam is an uninteresting character without much of a background, and his actions in the book are mundane and ordinary although they could have been heroic. The story's only tension revolves around the arrival of the Powhatan Indians who provide needed food for the settlers. While the writing is at best pedestrian and at worst simply boring, the illustrations by Archambault are just plain bad. Archambault employs broad, heavy strokes in his illustrations that make them appear flat and uninteresting. I think the book would have been better by simply recounting the true story of the Jamestown settlers and trusting that children are smart enough to imagine the travails of children their age. 2006, Millbrook Press/Lerner Books, Ages 8 to 12.