Who’s Saying What in Jamestown, Thomas Savage?

Written by Jean Fritz
Review by Cindy Vallar

At thirteen, Thomas Savage becomes a translator between the Jamestown colonists and the Indians. He lives with Powhatan, the chief, and Pocahontas teaches him her language and her people’s ways. Each presents challenges, but the hardest of Thomas’s job is remaining neutral. When 300 new colonists arrive, there isn’t enough room or food for them. A fire injures Captain John Smith, and false accusations force the Indians to break the peace. How will the English survive the Starving Time? Will there be war or a new truce? Can Thomas stay neutral amidst the hostilities of the settlers and the Indians? Will he achieve his dream of being a gentleman landowner with a family of his own?

Many years ago, Jean Fritz introduced children to people behind the American Revolution—men like George Washington and Samuel Adams. Her books asked a question that made these legendary men real and included facts rarely found in traditional biographies. She continues this trend with this book, but the lack of primary documentation on Thomas required her to fill in the gaps with probable, but not provable, information. She does a commendable job bringing Thomas to life and demonstrating what it was like to live in Jamestown 400 years ago. She shows both sides of the story, rather than just the English point of view. The colorful illustrations allow young readers to visualize the historical events that shaped the early days of America.