Jane Yolen is a highly acclaimed author who has written hundreds of books for children and adults and has won numerous awards. She and her husband divide their time between Massachussetts and Scotland. Visit her at janeyolen.com and on Twitter at @JaneYolen. DAVID SHANNON is the illustrator of many popular picture books, including How I Became a Pirate. His numerous awards include a Caldecott Honor for No, David! He lives in Burbank, California.
Gr 2 - 5-- Readers weary of materials celebrating Columbus and his voyages will be refreshed and intrigued by this thought-provoking picture book. The imaginative story examines the first meeting between Columbus and the indigenous peoples of San Salvador (the Taino) through the eyes of a young native boy. The unnamed narrator has been warned in an ominous dream that the strangers may bring trouble to his people. His concerns are ignored, however, and the Taino greet their guests with customary feasting and gifts, only to be repaid by the abduction of several of their young people. Taken among the captives, the boy escapes and slowly makes his way home, trying to convince others along the way that the Spanish pose a threat, but to no avail. Yolen acknowledges in an author's note that no record of the Tainos' reaction to Columbus's arrival is available; this account is instead an evocative imagining of how things might have been. The haunting story is perfectly complemented by Shannon's powerful acrylic paintings. He mentions that, in fact, the Taino did not wear clothing, but feels that his decision to clothe them does not interfere with the plausibility or effectiveness of his presentation. A book that offers readers an alternative perspective on a well-known and much-celebrated historical event. --Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh