cover image History Smashers: The Mayflower

History Smashers: The Mayflower

Kate Messner, illus. by Dylan Meconis. Random House, $7.99 paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-593-12031-6

Opening the History Smashers series along with the simultaneously published History Smashers: Women’s Right to Vote, this entertaining, informative offering by Messner (The Next President) aims to decolonize the story of the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. Drawing on historical documents and consultations with Linda Coombs, an Aquinnah Wampanoag educator and historian, Messner goes beyond the myths surrounding the English Separatists’ journey and gives context often left out of that history. Beginning with the English perspective (“Who Were the Pilgrims, Anyway?”), Messner describes what the sea voyage would have been like, what the travelers actually found when they arrived in what is now the U.S., and the Wampanoag people and culture native to the region the Separatists claimed for themselves. Messner also sheds light on the “first Thanksgiving” and packs the narrative full of historical quotes, helpfully translating history into accessible, contemporary speech. Historical paintings, as well as lighthearted, engaging black-and-white cartoon illustrations by Meconis, frequently in graphic novel–style panels, make complex and often grim history relevant to young readers. A cast list highlighting some individuals from the Mayflower rounds out this well-researched book, a multifaceted resource for any school or library. Back matter includes an author’s note and a bibliography. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. [em](July) [/em]