The Boy Who Fell off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune by P. J. Lynch

Published by Candlewick 

Summary:  John Howland describes his voyage from England to the New World, working as a servant to John Carver.  He does, indeed, fall off the Mayflower, right in the middle of the storm, and is extremely lucky to be seen and pulled back on board.  For much of the trip, he dreams of his family back in England, and of returning to London to start his own business.  During the first tough year in Plymouth, Carver dies, and Howland is a free man.  When a ship arrives with another group of residents for the new colony, John thinks he will go aboard and sail back to England.  But his friend Lizzy Tilley convinces him to stay with his new community and help build the colony.  An author’s note explains that John and Lizzy got married and had ten children, certainly doing more than their share to populate the New World.  64 pages; grades 2-6.

Pros:  P.J. Lynch is known more for his illustrations than writing, and the pictures here capture the wild sea and sick misery of life on the Mayflower.  The writing is engaging, as well, with John’s voice a perfect blend of 17th century words and 21st century wit.  The whole group of Mayflower passengers really come to life as this story unfolds.

Cons:  Too bad I didn’t read this a few weeks ago.  Oh well, only 50 weeks until next Thanksgiving.

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