Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Our Strange New Land: Elizabeth’s Jamestown Colony Diary

Our Strange New Land: Elizabeth’s Jamestown Colony Diary

Patricia Hermes
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 7 to 10
Scholastic, 2000   ISBN: 978-0439368988

Elizabeth is not sure what to think of her new home. She and her parents have come to join the Jamestown colony in Virginia. It is hard getting used to the new land and the process is made all that more difficult because their family had to leave Elizabeth?s frail twin brother Caleb back in England. The whole family hopes that Caleb will be able to join them in the spring. Now it is summer and they must wait many months before they can hope to have Caleb with them once more.

In the meantime Elizabeth makes friends and learns a great deal. The new arrivals to the colony quickly learn how dangerous life is in this new land. Some of the Indians seem to be friendly and yet others are hostile and will kill settlers who wander off too far into the woods. Then there is the problem of food and supplies. There just isn?t enough to go around and it is hard to go hunting and gathering when the Indians are such a threat. To make matters infinitely worse disease is spreading like wildfire among the colonists and people are dying at a terrifying rate. Friends and family all get sick and Elizabeth is terrified that she is going to lose someone who is dear to her.

This wonderfully written account will give young readers a very vivid, sometimes shocking picture of how hard life was for the settlers who tried to build a life for themselves in Virginia in 1609. It was a confusing time because the settlers could not be sure which of the Indian tribes were their enemies and which could be trusted. Then there were the disagreements that flared up between the men who were the leaders of the colony. Though he was a very good organizer, John Smith was not liked by all and there were many discussions and arguments about who should lead the colonists and make the important decisions regarding their future.

This is the first book in a trilogy about Elizabeth and her family.