Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving

Squantos Journey102606130Squantos Journey:  The Story of the First Thanksgiving

Joseph Bruchac, author

Greg Shed, illustrator

Silver Whistle – Harcourt, Inc., Historical Fiction, 2000

Suitable for: Ages 6-12

Themes: Squanto, Wampanoag Indians, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, Survival

Opening/Synopsis“My story is both strange and true.  I was born in the year the English call 1590.  My family were leaders of the Patuxet people and I, too, was raised to lead. But in 1614 I was taken to Spain against my will.  Now it is 1621 and I am again in my homeland.  My name is Squanto, I would like to tell you my tale.”   Squanto plays a key role in bringing peace between the Indians and the English settlers who arrived in Plymouth.  The settlers were not prepared for the harsh challenges they faced.  Squanto taught them ways of the living on the land so that they could plant crops, hunt, fish and prepare for the winter.  When the autumn arrived they celebrated the good harvest with a feast for all.   Squanto’s tribe worked with the settlers to help them survive.

Why I like this book:  The story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is known to children.  Author Joseph Bruchac tells the story from the Native American perspective in first person.  Squanto ( Tisquantum) was captured by the British, taken to Spain as a slave where he escaped and found his way back home to New England.  He was the first Native American Indian to live in the European and Indian world.  The author’s research is thorough and he spent many years among the Native American tribe.  He wrote this fascinating  and inspiring account of how Squanto taught the Pilgrims to survive the harsh New World.  Greg Shed’s research took him to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA, where he studied the landscape, and buildings and settlement so he could capture the authenticity in his bold and beautiful illustrations.

Resources: There is an informative Author’s Note at the end.  The Plimoth Plantation has a wonderful section “Just for Kids,” where children can learn to talk like a Pilgrim, take a virtual  Thanksgiving field trip sponsored by Scholastic, and work with materials for reports and coloring pages.  Click here to view a short video on the Plimoth Plantation produced by the History Channel.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

40 thoughts on “Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving

  1. This is a great book choice Pat. Plimouth Plantation is a marvelous place to visit and they work very hard to maintain a sense of authenticity.

    I met Joseph Bruchac several years ago – he’s a fascinating man!


    • Cathy, lucky you. I imagine he’s fascinating. I admired the research that went into this story. I thought some of you on the east coast have visited Plimoth Plantation. Ienjoyed the History Channels videos.


  2. This looks like a good way to help children understand the real story of the first Thanksgiving. Even if I can’t get my hands on this book before Thanksgiving, I know I’ll visit the Plimouth site with my kids. Thanks for this resource.


  3. I love the Thanksgiving story. From the Pilgrim’s perspective, from the Indian’s perspective. Tragic, yet it’s so providential the way it worked out. I also love stories about Plymouth’s following years. What an amazing colony!


    • Michelle, Thanks for stopping. I had some mixed emotions as I understood how the Native Americans were friendly and worked with the settlers to help them. There was a true friendship and then history shows what happened to that relationship. It is a great lesson.


  4. We are indeed on the same page today, Pat, and I am so glad you chose this wonderful book. I would love to visit the Plimoth Plantation someday!


  5. Patricia? Did you mis-spell Plymouth MA on purpose? Is that how they do it in the book? I was always under the perception that it was an y not an I after the pl in Plymouth MA. Also there is the question of the u in Plymouth. Am I getting all mixed up?

    Anyway this review is very cool and makes me want to get this Picture book pronto. Thanks so much. 🙂


  6. That sounds fascinating. I vaguely remembering hearing about this in a history class way back when. It’s cool that the story has been made into a children’s book. And I love that it’s written from the First Nations perspective.


  7. I’ve been seeing lots of books about Thanksgiving this week. At school and at the library. It’s mind boggling! But this one looks a little different and Squanto sounds like a very interesting character that I might want to find more about. Thanks for this suggestion.


    • Diane, I’m glad you enjoyed Squantos. It does give insight into another culture — and of course that would be the first thing you’d see. Hope you share some good holiday stories from down under.


    • Susanna, I thought you’d like this one. It may have been published, but I saw it stocked in paperback at the bookstore. So, it is a book that has stood the test of time — don’t know why I’m just discovering it!


  8. This sounds like a great story. I’ve enjoyed Joseph Bruchac’s stories for many years. I only just learned of this part of Squanto’s story last week, reading a Thanksgiving book to my kids. Somehow, they never mentioned that he’d been kidnapped when I was learning this in school! I’m glad that part of the story is now getting told in schools.


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