Written by Joseph Bruchac
Review by Alice Logsdon

This is a historically accurate account of the period leading up to the meeting between Captain John Smith and Pocahontas. Naturally, it is quite different from the Walt Disney version. Bruchac uses Smith’s diaries, historical records, Algonquin word lists and oral tradition to weave together a fascinating look at the early days of Jamestown Colony, Virginia, narrated in alternating chapters by Smith and 12-year-old Pocahontas.

In 1606, the London Company was granted a charter to travel to and establish a new colony in the Chesapeake Bay area. They knew very little about their destination, and even less about the native people they would encounter. Most all had limited experience in dealing with those from other cultures. Likewise, the Powhatans had no great experience in dealing with the “coatmen” and little reason to trust them. The cultural gulf between the two groups was vast, which, from the first meeting, lead to misunderstandings and violence. As daughter to chief Mamanatowic, Pocahontas has the chance to bridge the gulf, and hopefully fashion a peace between the two groups, by introducing Smith to her traditions.

This story is simple and complex at the same time. It is appropriate for young adults, age 12 and up. There is some violence, and some unpleasant details about sanitary conditions among the colonists.