New York; Scholastic, 2014.
In keeping with the season, November’s Non-Fiction Book of the Month is an account of the Pilgrims’ voyage to the New World. The reader takes on the role of one Priscilla Mullins, a young woman who really did make the journey with her family. As Priscilla, we meet the crew and the other passengers. Darkly humorous “Handy Hints” in dialogue boxes thoughout the book dispense practical advice like “Watch out for large waves when you use the facilities on the beakhead,” which is the part of the bow that hangs out in front of the ship where the toilets are located.
Speaking of bathroom facilities, sometimes historical accounts gloss over some important details of everyday life. Not so here! In You Wouldn’t Want to Sail on the Mayflower, those details are discussed in some detail. For example, imagine listening to a crying baby for months while you are seasick and stuck in cramped, stinking quarters. Not fun. We also learn the fate of a not-so-sympathetic sailor who thought it was funny to harass the passengers about their misery. (Handy Hint: Try not to get sick. If you die on the ship your body will be thrown overboard!)
This version of the Mayflower story is a more lighthearted take on the voyage and the establishment of the colony at Plymouth. Elementary school readers will enjoy the illustrations and some of the gruesome details. Teachers and librarians will like the timeline, the lesser known details of the first leg of the journey, and the glossary, along with an index, a map, and a few short bonus sections in the back of the book on nautical matters.
This Mayflower book will fill the fun-to-read slot in your Thanksgiving section nicley. It is one of the many books in the rather large “You Wouldn’t Want To…” series, which covers many historical topics.
CCSS: ELA Reading Standards for Informational Text: Grade 4, Standard 7; Grade 5, Standards 6 and 9; Grade 6, Standards 3, 6, 7 and 9.
Interest: Grades 3 – 6
Awards/Reviews: Best Seller
Younger readers might like: If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern.
Older readers might like: Thanksgiving: The True Story by Penny Coleman
Fiction paring: A Journey to the New World: A Diary of Remember Patience Whipple by Kathryn Lasky.