Book Review: Myles Standish

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

More Books by This Author

• George Washington, Spymaster
• The Revolutionary John Adams
• Thomas Jefferson
• The Tragic Tale of Narcissa Whitman

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Cheryl Harness is one of the more exciting and believable writers of history for younger readers. She is definitely master of her material, and she has a knack for phrasing things in such a way that readers, especially young ones, will want to read on. She is also a top-notch illustrator.

Both of those skills are on full display in the first of what is projected to be an eight-part series on American history by Harness, accomplished author/illustrator of a large handful of books already. Myles Standish, of course, was the soldier who traveled with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and ended up in Plymouth Colony. His story is so much larger than as protector of the Pilgrims, and Harness tells his story with aplomb and striking illustrations aplenty.

The most stunning illustration is one of the earliest ones, a map of Europe in Standish's day. The map shows his world when he was a boy. It is dated 1594. Europe in those days was nowhere near the neat and tidy set of nations that it is today. It was awash in wars—political and religious—and kingdoms, duchies, and empires. The maps shows the various political entities and their religious leanings to perfection.

Another amazing illustration shows where the various Native American tribes lived in what is now the U.S. and Canada. This two-page spread is definitely something to photocopy and keep as a reference. More than 100 tribes are listed, along with their geographic location. Impressive indeed!

The book has much more about the backstory of the Pilgrims than other books on the subject. We learn how life was in Scrooby and Leyden, both in the worship halls and in homes and occupations. We also learn that the Pilgrims' actions in finally leaving England took a lot longer than is commonly thought.

Each and every page contains a timeline at the bottom, showcasing important events from elsewhere in the world. This definitely puts the events of Standish and the rest of the Pilgrims in perspective.

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