cover image A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple

A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple

Kathryn Lasky. Scholastic, $10.95 (173pp) ISBN 978-0-590-50214-6

In the impressive inaugural installments of the Dear America series, three accomplished authors give readers illuminating glimpses of the nation's past. Presented as a girl's diary, each book features real-life historical figures and the diarists' subjective descriptions of significant occurrences (respectively, the Pilgrims' journey on the Mayflower and founding of Plimoth colony in 1620, Washington's army's arduous winter of 1778 at Valley Forge, and the Union occupation of a Virginia town in 1864). The greatest emphasis, however, is on the girls' daily lives and their relationships with family, friends and sometimes annoying acquaintences. All three authors include an abundance of hard-hitting incidents and images: the mothers of two of the narrators die; Remember watches as bodies of the dead are thrown overboard from the Mayflower; near an army surgeon's hut, Abby spies a trough filled with hands and feet. Journal entries in Denenberg's book are decidedly more formal and ponderous than those penned by Lasky and Gregory, but his heroine's personality and way of life emerge almost as convincingly as those of her counterparts. Epilogues provide a follow-up to the fictional characters' lives, while historical notes objectively summarize key events of the periods. Rough-edged pages and sewn-in ribbon place-markers give these attractively priced, paper-over-board volumes the look of genuine diaries. More than a supplement to classroom textbooks, the series is an imaginative, solid entree into American history. Ages 8-13. (Sept.)