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Blood on the River: James Town 1607

By Elisa Carbone

Viking Juvenile, 2006
Pages : 256
Suggested Ages: 10 and Up
ISBN: 0670060607

This captivating and gritty novel, narrated by Samuel Collier, one of the boys who came to Jamestown, will not just turn kids on to reading, but American history as well.

In his clear-eyed, harrowing account of the first year of the Jamestown Settlement, eleven-year-old orphan Samuel accompanies Captain John Smith to Virginia as his page. Samuel starts out an angry and resentful loner, prone to picking fights with the other boys in the group. Captain Smith has his own problems-the wealthy and imperious noblemen on board the ship loathed him as a commoner who was trying to rise above his station and tried to have him hanged. Even so, Captain Smith takes time with Samuel, demanding the boy become part of the group, instead of always trying to "stand on one foot." Living through a deadly attack by Powhatan warriors and the murder of one of the boys, facing starvation, constructing a fort and watching it destroyed by fire, and burying too many men dead of sickness, Samuel soon comes to understand the lionhearted Captain Smith's insistence on cooperating with others, including the inscrutable Chief Powhatan.

In her extensive Author's Note, Carbone suggests several websites for planning a virtual or real-time visit to Jamestown, just a couple of years past its quadricentennial, including www.virtualjamestown.org. Joseph Bruchac's riveting novel Pocahontas relates the story from the alternating viewpoints of Pocahontas and John Smith.

Reviewed by : JF.

Themes : HISTORICAL FICTION. U.S. HISTORY. MULTICULTURAL BOOKS.

If you love this book, then try:

Blackwood, Gary L. The Shakespeare Stealer. Dutton, 1998.


Bruchac, Joseph. Pocahontas. Harcourt, 2003.


Dorris, Michael. Morning Girl. Hyperion, 1992.


Dorris, Michael. Sees Behind Trees. Hyperion, 1996.


Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House. Hyperion, 1999.


Erdrich, Louise. The Game of Silence. HarperCollins, 2005.


Fritz, Jean. The Double Life of Pocahontas. Putnam, 1983.


Gilson, Jamie. Stink Alley. HarperCollins, 2002.


Graham, Harriet. A Boy and His Bear. McElderry, 1996.


Hurst, Carol Otis, and Rebecca Otis. A Killing in Plymouth Colony. Houghton Mifflin, 2003.


Karwoski, Gail Langer. Surviving Jamestown: The Adventures of Young Sam Collier. Peachtree, 2001.

Critics have said

A strong, visceral story of the hardship and peril settlers faced, as well as the brutal realities of colonial conquest.
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