Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Starving Time: Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary

The Starving Time: Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary

Patricia Hermes
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 7 to 10
Scholastic Inc., 2001   ISBN: 978-0439368988

John Smith, Elizabeth's friend, has left the Jamestown colony and many of the colonists are worried about the future of the colony. Winter is approaching and it is clear to everyone that there is not enough food in the storehouse to last them until spring when the next ship will be arriving. Food is getting harder to find in the woods as it gets colder and some of the colonists are stealing from the Indians. Of course this angers the Indians and it makes it all the more dangerous for those who leave the safety of the fort to look for food.

As the people begin to starve and as disease begins to claim many lives every day, some of the men venture out to try to get some meat or fish. It is a perilous business and when Elizabeth's own father goes out she is terrified that she will never see him again.

As Elizabeth watches her newly born baby sister get more and more listless and thinner and thinner, she cannot help feeling desperate. Surely Pocahontas, the Indian girl who was once such a good friend to John Smith, will be willing to help the colonists in this terrible time.

It is hard to imagine being so hungry that one eats worms and it is hard to imagine what it would be like to have to sit by and watch ones friends and family members die. This is just what the Jamestown settlers had to endure and in this excellent second book in the Elizabeth series, the author perfectly conveys the danger and the beauty that the Jamestown colonists found in Virginia. Through Elizabeth's eyes we not only learn about what came to be called "The Starving Time," but we also get a sense of what the people might have been like and how like ourselves they must have been in many ways. Like us they feared the unknown; like us they felt jealousy and anger; like us they were able to play and laugh even when times were hard.