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Pocahontas: Princess of Faith and Courage

By Maja Ledgerwood; illustrated by Tyson Ledgerwood

1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403

Stories about the Indian princess Pocahontas can be found in libraries everywhere. Her life has even made its way to the big screen, thanks to Disney. From picture books to early-chapter and middle-grade readers to historical accounts for high school and up, Pocahontas appears to be a popular gal. Each book (and especially the Disney movie!) presents its own unique take on the life of the young Algonquian girl. What homeschool history lesson is complete without the story of Pocahontas, Captain John Smith, and Jamestown? And how do we know which story is the real story?

Obviously we can't know which story is the true account. However, Pocahontas: Princess of Faith and Courage does a nice job putting it all together in simple text and pictures for younger students--kindergarten through third grade. This 40-page soft-cover picture book is illustrated on every page in bright, vibrant colors that appeal to the eye. Scenes showing little Pocahontas playing with butterflies or sitting by the seashore show readers that she was a real little girl who lived and played a few hundred years ago.

The story is told in simple narrative, with large and easy-to-read text. It covers Pocahontas's life from a young child to her death at the "ripe old age" of twenty-one. Much of the story was familiar to me, but I did discover some things I didn't know. For instance, Pocahontas's baby name was Matoaka, which means "she is playful." Her father changed her name to Pocahontas (which means "little wanton") because she became mischievous as she grew older.

This version of the Pocahontas story includes the Indian princess's conversion to Christianity, her new name of Rebecca, her marriage to John Rolfe, and her death in England. As a nice bonus, the book adds a page of "Pocahontas Fact Questions" for students to fill out as well as a page of questions for further discussion and research. The "Illustrator's Notes" provide an interesting explanation of the symbols used in many of the pictures in the book. The only difficulty is that while the notes cite page numbers, the book itself is not numbered.

If you're looking for a brightly colored, enjoyable account of Pocahontas--with a few pages of follow-up for your home school lesson on Jamestown--Pocahontas: Princess of Faith and Courage is a good choice.

Product review by Susan K. Marlow, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, December 2008

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