We Asked for Nothing: The Remarkable Journey of Cabeza de Vaca

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The explorer who discovered his own humanity.

In 1528, the conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca escaped a hostile reception in Florida only to be shipwrecked off the coast of Texas. For the next eight years, he lived among the native tribes of the Southwest while he journeyed towards the safety of the Spanish settlements in Mexico. He and three companions survived starvation, sickness and slavery thanks to the generosity of native peoples ...

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Overview

The explorer who discovered his own humanity.

In 1528, the conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca escaped a hostile reception in Florida only to be shipwrecked off the coast of Texas. For the next eight years, he lived among the native tribes of the Southwest while he journeyed towards the safety of the Spanish settlements in Mexico. He and three companions survived starvation, sickness and slavery thanks to the generosity of native peoples along the way.

When Cabeza de Vaca finally reached the Spanish, he was a changed man and led the struggle against the feudal-like exploitation of the New World populations. Stuart Waldman tells the fascinating story of two journeys: one covering 2,500 miles through unexplored territory, the other the transformation of a man's heart.

Excerpts from Cabeza de Vaca's journals make the reader's immersion into this mystifying world complete. The gatefold map allows the reader to follow the journey while reading.

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Editorial Reviews

International Reading Association
IRA Children's Book Award Notable Book
National Council for the Social Studies and The Ch
Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies for 2004
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Design is clean and inviting... gracefully ornamented sidebar quotations... fold-out map that can be easily accessed while reading.
The Sacramento Bee - Judy Green
Incredible survival saga... [Waldman's] compelling tale of Europeans walking through an ancient world before it was irrevocably changed should be essential reading for all students of American history.
National Council for the Social Studies and the Children's Book Council
Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies for 2004
Children's Literature
Alvar Nuenez Cabeza de Vaca was appointed by the King of Spain to travel to the New World with the conquistadors with the express purpose of discovering how the natives were being treated. Cabeza de Vaca knew nothing about the natives. He had been trained as a soldier and it seemed that his main goal in joining this expedition was to return to Spain a rich man. His life changed drastically when he was shipwrecked on an island near Texas. He was one of about 80 men taken in by a native tribe. That winter as terrible rains and high winds pummeled the island, the Indians demanded that the Spaniards go throughout the village to heal the sick. This was totally unexpected, but they responded by reciting the Lord's Prayer and making the sign of the cross over the ailing Indians. Miraculously, many were cured and the Spaniards gained a reputation as healers. When Cabeza de Vaca was able to travel to the mainland, he stayed with other tribes, continuing with his healing and facilitating trade. His desire to return to Spain remained constant throughout his eight years of hardship. He kept moving toward Mexico to try to make contact with other Spaniards. Cabeza de Vaca became a deeply religious man as a result of his experiences. He was saddened to see how the conquistadors were mistreating the natives. He recommended that they convert the Indians to Catholicism, because the Spanish would not harm other Christians. This was somewhat effective. Cabeza de Vaca went home to Spain, but returned to the New World with disappointing results, finding he was unable to end either the torture or the slavery of the natives. A fold-out map in the front of the book enables readers to follow Cabeza de Vaca'sjourney. Insets from his book, La Relacion, add authenticity to the account. Impressive double-page illustrations contribute to the understanding of this tragic history. An epilogue, notes about the later lives of some of the men mentioned, and a bibliography help to make this a good reference source. 2003, Mikaya Press, Ages 8 to 12.
— Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and his men were shipwrecked on an island off the shore of Texas in 1528. Seeing how emaciated the Spaniards were, local Indians brought them food and water and cared for them. Cabeza de Vaca lived among the native tribes in the southwest for eight years, as he and three others walked toward the Spanish settlements in what today is Mexico. Enduring starvation, illness, and enslavement, they survived largely through the kindness of the Indians they met along the way. When the explorer finally reached the Spanish settlers, he tried to change their feudal-like treatment of indigenous people. Waldman's recounting is engaging, straightforward, and clear. Much of the text is based on Cabeza de Vaca's writings, which are frequently quoted in boxed insets, greatly enhancing readers' understanding of events. An epilogue explains what happened to the individuals mentioned in the narrative. A foldout map traces the journey on sea and land. McNeely's full- and double-page paintings capture the landscapes better than the people, who often look stiff. Most of the men's facial expressions appear as grimaces, and do not effectively portray their emotions. An absorbing story of adventure and self-discovery.-Peg Glisson, Mendon Center Elementary School, Pittsford, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931414074
  • Publisher: Mikaya Press
  • Publication date: 9/6/2003
  • Series: Great Explorers Series
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 9 - 13 Years
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Stuart Waldman is an editor of children's books.

Tom McNeely's watercolors are both unflinching and stunningly gorgeous.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 13, 2012

    good book!!

    good book!!

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