cover image 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving

Catherine O'Neill Grace, Grace, with Plimoth Plantation, photos by Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. . National Geographic, $17.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-7922-7027-0

Grace (the I Want to Be... series) and Bruchac (an adviser for the Wampanoag Indian Program at Plimoth Plantation) provide a well-researched, smooth account of the Wampanoag side of the Thanksgiving story. Arguing that "a number of today's assumptions about that event are based more on fiction than on fact," the authors explain a map that shows Wampanoag territory and the ways in which they acted as "caretakers"—never owners—of the land, and fascinating facts (e.g., the first Bible printed in the New World was in the Wôpanâak language). Though some readers may object to the strong tone (e.g., "The history of the English colonies in America is a history of European people imposing their culture, politics, and religion onto Native people"), the authors posit a provocative and convincing view of what actually happened that first Thanksgiving and note that many modern descendants of Native peoples observe the holiday as a national day of mourning. Crisp, clear photographs taken at Plimoth Plantation showing actors in period dress with 17th-century artifacts, coupled with a perspective that children may never have heard, make this the most memorable Thanksgiving volume of the season. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)