Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving

Mary Englar
Illustrator:  Peter McDonnell 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 8 to 10
Capstone Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-0736854924

On November 11th, 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower sailed into Cape Cod. The weary people on board were eager to stand on dry land once more but it would be some months before they would begin living in the new settlement which they called New Plymouth. The winter was a very hard one. The new arrivals had little to eat and sickness killed many of them. Not far from New Plymouth local Native American tribesmen watched what was going on and hoped that the white people would move on. But the Pilgrims were determined to stay and when the Mayflower set sail for England in the spring, none of the settlers were on it.

Then, in March, one of the Native Americans who was called Samoset decided to talk to the Pilgrims. He spoke English well and soon he and a friend of his, Squanto, were teaching the Pilgrims how to catch game and fish, how to plant corn, and other skills that the English would need to survive.

In the fall of that year the Pilgrims decided to have a harvest feast and they invited the Native Americans to join them. The Native Americans had been holding celebrations of thanksgiving for hundreds of years and they were glad to contribute to the celebration and to join the English in giving thanks for the good harvest and for good friends.

In this excellent account of the Pilgrim's first year in the New World, readers will be able to see how hard life was for the English who had much to learn about the country in which they found themselves. There can be do doubt that the Pilgrims could well have failed in their efforts if they had not had the help of the local Native Americans. This version of the now famous story emphasizes this and it also shows us that the first Thanksgiving was a combination of the centuries old European harvest feast and the centuries old Native American Thanksgiving celebration.