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Pilgrims: Magic Tree House Research Guide    by Mary Pope Osborne & Natalie Pope Boyce order for
by Mary Pope Osborne
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Magic Tree House Research Guides are designed to answer questions on events and places in history, such as the Olympic Games, Rain Forests, and Pirates. In Pilgrims, Mary Pope Osborne and her sister Natalie Pope Boyce present a non-fiction companion to the Magic Tree House episode Thanksgiving on Thursday.

A ship named the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth in September of 1620, carrying 102 passengers. These Pilgrims left England for many reasons, including religious freedom, and a lack of work in the homeland for people such as farmers and weavers. In November they finally spotted land, anchored off the coast of Cape Cod, and rowed to shore in a longboat. Before anyone left the ship, a list of rules was signed by forty-one men (nope, women were not allowed to sign!) The agreement became known as the Mayflower Compact, and John Carver served as the group's first governor. A soldier named Myles Standish explored with scouts. After it became clear that Cape Cod was not a good spot to settle, they relocated to Plymouth, named after the English town.

It has been said that the Pilgrims first stepped on a very large rock to get to land. (It is now surrounded by an iron fence, and reduced to one-third its original size because visitors took chips over many years.) The Native Americans of the area are today known as the Wampanoag Nation, meaning 'People of the First Light' or 'People of the East'. Both Natives and Pilgrims experienced hard times from diseases such as scurvy and pneumonia, and struggles with bitter cold winter weather. A Native American by the name of Squanto spoke English well, and helped the new settlers in planting crops, and fishing, and making peace. The Native People and the settlers joined together to celebrate, initiating the first Thanksgiving.

Sal Murdocca's black and white sketches show the garments worn during that period, also a cross-section of the Mayflower, and famous people from that time. The latter include William Bradford, a governor, remembered for writing History of Plymouth Plantation; and Priscilla Mullen, who married John Alden and had eleven children. The authors list resources for readers to learn more about the Pilgrims and Native People of Plymouth, including books and videos, museums to visit, Internet sources, software and CD-ROMs. Adults and children alike will enjoy reading this informative book.

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