Blood on the River: James Town, 1607

Elisa Carbone
Twelve-year-old Samuel Collier is a lowly commoner on the streets of London. So when he becomes the page of Captain John Smith and boards the Susan Constant, bound for the New World, he can’t believe his good fortune. He’s heard that gold washes ashore with every tide. But beginning with the stormy journey and his first contact with the native people, he realizes that the New World is nothing like he imagined. The lush Virginia shore where they establish the colony of James Town is both beautiful and forbidding, and it’s hard to know who’s a friend or foe. As he learns the language of the Algonquian Indians and observes Captain Smith’s wise diplomacy, Samuel begins to see that he can be whomever he wants to be in this new land.


Reviewed: 2016-11-15

     Blood on the River, written by Elisa Carbone, is a book that I became interested in when I had to use it for a read-aloud in a fifth grade class I was subbing. The main character’s name is Samuel Collier. When Sam is caught stealing his mother’s locket from a pawnshop he is sent to the shipyard by his capturer Captain Smith to join the expedition to America. The trip to the New World looked exciting but his trip was hard. He was forced to live under deck with the sailors near the slop buckets (puke buckets) and was forced to work on the ship. When they reached land, Samuel found that the hardships were going to continue. There was an Indian tribe that kept coming to trade with the colonists; however what the Indians really wanted was to find the colonists weakness. Once they found that weakness the Indian tribe attacked. There are a lot of ups and downs throughout the story, which keeps the reader engaged. As time passes, and Samuel learns more about the Indian tribe and his fellow colonists, he also learns about himself and realizes he can be whoever he wants to be in this new world.

     In the school I am interning, this book is used as a read-aloud. The teacher reads the book to the students and the students complete different activities throughout the time the read-aloud is going on to show understanding. One of the first activities the students did that I saw was they created a map of the events that have happened so far in the story to show their comprehension. This book can be used to teach character traits and themes such as teamwork.

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