Title: Peter and the Pilgrims
Author: Louise A. Vernon
Series: Louise A. Vernon Religious Heritage Series
Major Themes: Colonial America, Mayflower, Pilgrims
Synopsis: Peter finds himself living with the Separatists, and he travels to America with them, on the Mayflower.
We are studying the Pilgrims right now for history, and Peter and the Pilgrims proved to be a popular read-aloud. My 6-year-old asked me to help him write a story about traveling on the Mayflower, based on this book! I was surprised that he actually wanted to write something that wasn’t required; obviously, he enjoyed this story.
Peter, though a bound boy, was treated like a son by his master. However, when his master suddenly collapsed of the plague, and Peter tried to help him, the boy was banished from home and found himself alone in the world. He decided to go to Scrooby, where he had lived when his parents were still living. While there, he found himself among the Separatists, and soon made his way to Holland with them. When they decided to travel to the New World to find a place of refuge, Peter went with them.
This story follows the Pilgrims through their hazardous voyage and the hardships of the first year. You will experience many things with Peter—seasickness and storms, cold and hunger, and the terror of the First Encounter with the Indians. You will also experience the excitement of meeting Squanto and learning from him how to find food in a strange new place. The author has done a good job of making this famous story come alive for children.
One thing I must mention about the First Encounter. In this story, Peter finds himself pinned to a tree with an Indian’s arrow, and another arrow is pointed at his heart—and the chapter ends. When I stopped reading there, I heard a clamour of voices begging me to go on. Hard as it was, though, we left poor Peter pinned to the tree for 24 hours, until our next reading session. I thought that was a good touch, to end the chapter on a cliff-hanger!
We also really enjoyed a chapter toward the beginning of the book, right after Peter arrived in Scrooby. He was staying with a widow, but many people in Scrooby wanted to get rid of him because he had been in contact with a plague victim. One evening, someone pounded on the door, calling for it to be opened “In the name of the king!” A number of tense pages follow—and then you will find yourself surprised with the outcome!
Peter and the Pilgrims is a great book for any child who loves historical stories. It is easy to read, and sticks pretty close to the facts.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12