Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Sam Collier and the Founding of Jamestown

Sam Collier and the Founding of Jamestown

Candice F. Ransom
Illustrator:  Matthew Archambault 
For ages 4 to 7
Millbrook, 2005   ISBN: 978-1575058740

Sam Collier was one of four boys who came to Virginia to help build the first colony in the new land. Sam was John Smith’s page and it must have been a great shock for the young boy to come to a land where there was only wilderness.

From the very beginning life in Virginia was difficult. Many of the settlers were gentlemen who would not do any of the manual work that was needed to build their settlement and to get much needed food. The colonists soon discovered that they had landed within the boundaries of land claimed by a powerful Indian chief. Many tribes lived in the area around the river and Chief Powhatan ruled them all. However the tribes were not consistent in the way they treated the Englishmen. Some of them were willing to trade with the settlers; others wanted the settlers to leave.

It was not long before hunger and starvation were rampant. Even the powerful John Smith was ill for a time but with Sam to look after him, John survived. Sam too survived and when he grew up he became an important member of the community and leader.

Sam was a real person and though we cannot be sure what his life was like in Virginia, it is possible to imagine what it might have been like by reading other people’s accounts of that time, including the one written by the famous John Smith. The author has drawn on these stories to create a very credible account of Sam Collier’s Jamestown experiences. Young readers will be intrigued to find out more about this very interesting time in America’s early history.