Author: Pam Conrad
Publisher: Apple Paperbacks
Scholastic Reading Level: 5.5
Lexile Measurement: 1030L
Written In: 1991
Summary (written by Marie):
Pedro is a young ship’s boy on the Santa Maria in 1492. As part of his duties, Pedro is in charge of creating a journal of their voyage across the unknown waters to India. As the journey unfolds, he goes through a myriad of emotions – excitement, delight, fear, shame and disgust.
Marie’s Review (Mom):
This was a decent book that takes a look into what the voyage may have been like through the eyes of a boy. Columbus is not painted in a positive light in this story. The author, in the author’s note at the end, admits she is no historian but that she did consult two historians before writing this book. She says she tried to tell the truth but that “I must also make the admission that I am a storyteller and that I had no intention of teaching you anything.”
I intended to read this as a stand-alone “fun” book for Columbus Day, since we’re studying Ancient History right now. This was my mistake as the girls were bothered by what they learned about him. I admit to not knowing much about Columbus except the near sainthood that he was painted in in my childhood history books, and we have not yet studied him in depth. I googled Columbus and found much of what Pedro’s Journal describes is considered to be true. All the same, since we like the Christian Heroes Then and Now series so much, I am adding their book on Columbus to our reading list so we can get another point of view to discuss.
All that to say, while I thought the book was a good read and well written, it’s not one that I would take lightly.
Grace’s Review (5th Grade):
I don’t know, it’s not one of my favorites. It’s okay. I thought the story line was boring. I just don’t like the story and the plot line. I learned that Columbus was mean.
Lainey’s Review (4th Grade):
I liked it, because I like books that take place in the sea, and the country. It is a good book to read out loud. Columbus was actually a bad man in real life in some ways. I didn’t know that before.
Christian Friendly: Yes. It is told from a Catholic point of view, since the ship’s crew (and Spain at the time) was predominantly Catholic.
Sensitive Readers: Some Caution
Cannibalism and a basket with a man’s head in it are mentioned. Details of being “sliced across the buttocks” and “on the chest” are mentioned in a skirmish between the sailors and natives. Pedro discusses his shame and sadness at seeing families separated when Columbus essentially kidnaps natives to take back to Spain.