November 24, 2014
The Mayflower by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Frane Lessac
by Mark Greenwood
illustrated by Frane Lessac
Many books about the Pilgrims focus on their life here and the first Thanksgiving. Author Mark Greenland covers that in The Mayflower but he covers much, much more.
The story that Greenland tells starts in Englad with the lack of religious freedom there and discusses the hardships of the journey, including the fact that one of the ships leaked so badly that they had to leave it behind. He even tells the story of a beam cracking in the the storm stressed Mayflower and the fact that the ship was saved with tools that the Pilgrims had brought along to build their new homes.
I’m not sure how many words are in this picture book for readers 4-8 but it feels short — not in a bad way. The book is simply concise but packed with a lot of information that goes beyond the typical. There’s the ship’s beam cracking, a boy washed overboard and even the fact that not all Pilgrims were Puritans.
Lessac’s gouache paintings are bright and a bit cartoony but they lighten up what could easily become a grim, dark tale.
The backmatter includes a timeline which begins when the Mayflower departs England and ends in the 1940s when FDR signs a Thanksgiving Bill into law. There is also a list of resources including the book written by William Bradford, second governor of Plymouth. I have to admit that I was a bit miffed that this was the only mention he got in the book but I may be a bit biased. Don’t understand why? Look again at my name.
This is a good introduction to the topic of the Pilgrims and is very historic in nature, meaning that there is social history, no examination of the Puritan’s idea of freedom, the irony there of, or what they thought about other people. In a book this short, that isn’t a problem unless that is the kind of book you want.