Henry Garfield, Author . Atheneum/Jackson $16.95 (309p) ISBN 978-0-689-85173-5

This unglorified fictional account of British explorer John Cabot's final voyage may well appeal to history buffs as much as to fans of adventure tales. Devoting equal attention to the political and religious climate of the times and to Cabot's trip along the American coastline in search of a western passage to Asia, Garfield (Tartabull's Throw ) sheds light on some controversial corners of Europe's past. The author focuses on the ill treatment of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, and the early settlers' abuse of power against Native Americans. The story unfolds through the alternating points of view of two of Cabot's sons: 14-year-old Sancio and middle son Sebastian, 16.Through the perspective of Sancio, who accompanies his father on board the Pandora , Garfield captures the boy's sense of wonder as he records his impressions of the new uncivilized continent in letters written (but never sent) to Sebastian. Meanwhile, back in Bristol, Sebastian expresses his disappointment at being left behind (the eldest brother, Ludovico, "stands third-in-command" on the Matthew ) and ponders the fate of his father's ships, seemingly lost at sea. Flashbacks of John Cabot's past add depth to the novel, revealing his rivalry with Christopher Columbus (whom the author characterizes as a "childhood friend") and the conclusion offers a cameo role for Amerigo Vespucci. Portraying 15th-century explorers as more human than heroic, the author gently urges readers to look beyond the facts to find the hidden truths. Ages 12-up. (July)

Reviewed on: 08/09/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4391-1655-5
Hardcover - 363 pages - 978-0-7862-7085-9
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4169-5460-6
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