cover image The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune

P.J. Lynch. Candlewick, $17.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6584-5

In his authorial debut, Lynch (Mysterious Traveler) presents an intimate account of the Mayflower crossing and the Pilgrims’ first year in America. His imagined first-person narration by real-life indentured servant John Howland employs a zoom-lens focus in its description of pivotal episodes in the harrowing journey. One of these is Howland’s fall overboard: “Down and down I went into the darkness under the icy waves. It was quiet down there, no raging wind or rain like up above.” An eerie underwater blue-green spread shows Howland grasping for a submerged rope, the water’s surface and ship’s keel looming above. Lynch’s meticulous watercolor and gouache illustrations imbue the pages with cinematic energy. The opening birds-eye view of bustling 1620s London allows careful readers to spot a tiny Howland running through muddy streets on a clandestine errand; a later spread shows the Native Americans’ vantage from shadowy woods as they secretly watch the newly arrived Pilgrims. Short chapters with straightforward titles chronologically segment a familiar story that has been personalized through stunning artwork and insightful storytelling. Ages 7–10. Agent: Clare Conville, Conville & Walsh Literary Agency. (Sept.)