“…If You Sailed On The Mayflower in 1620” by Ann McGovern; illustrated by Anna DiVito


11.24.19 • 7:01 pm EDT | 0 responses |

Details! Details! We want more of the details concerning the first Thanksgiving and the lead up to the big day!

If you have a young reader who is eager to reach beyond the story of the Pilgrims, Samoset and Massasoit and the happy celebration after a very grim winter, wondering how in the world those hardy souls managed, then here is a picture book that answers some of those eager young minds.

It begins with the essential questions of:

Who were the Pilgrims? A pilgrim is someone who goes on a long, long journey

Where does the Pilgrim story begin? It begins in England, then to Holland and then to the New World.

What kind of ship was the Mayflower?  Cargo ship and sailing ship not made for people. It was about 90 feet long

How many people sailed on the Mayflower?  30 sailors and 102 passengers!

Who sailed on the Mayflower? There was a doctor, a shoemaker, blacksmith and a cooper or barrel maker to see that the barrels of beer and water didn’t leak. Most were either farmers, weavers or shopkeepers. And some were servants.

Here is where the picture book gets really interesting:

Were the people on the Mayflower friends?  Some yes. Some no. The sailors poked fun at the Pilgrims, especially because of their seasickness, the sailors called “glib-gabbety puke stockings.” How poetic! The sailors hated the prayers and holy songs. And the Pilgrims disliked the the sailors bad language.

But a grudging respect grows on both sides as the sailors respect the courage of their passengers and the Pilgrims were thankful to the sailors depositing them safely in the New Land.

Ann McGovern has done an information packed job in this 1969 Scholastic picture book done in Q and A format. It delivers clear facts and fills in for young readers answers to questions such as:


What could the Pilgrims take with them?

What would you eat and drink on the Mayflower?

Where would you sleep on the Mayflower?

Would you be able to keep clean?

Was it a safe voyage?


And here’s a question on the mind of many a curious young reader:


Would you have had any fun on the Mayflower?  Hey, there was a dog and a cat aboard. The cat was there to catch the RATS!

There were plenty of books to read, songs, called psalms, to sing!

Would you get into trouble on the Mayflower? – Read about those two Billington lads named John and Francis who were always in trouble.


And once the Pilgrims arrive, Ann McGovern’s questions will continue to pique young readers interest:


What was the first building in Plymouth?

How did the Pilgrims spend their first Christmas

Did the Pilgrims have any medicine?

Were there special jobs for boys and girls?

Did children go to school?

Were there special days of fun?


And that’s just a sample of questions asked and answered in this delightful picture book.


As I mentioned, this Thanksgiving, if your young reader asks for a real bird’s eye view of the start for the New World by the Pilgrims, the journey there and what happened once they arrived, then please get a copy of Ann McGovern’s “… If You Sailed on The Mayflower in 1620.” Anna DiVito’s illustrations make the journey feel real and the Pilgrims and sailors on this historic journey are rendered with a sweet attention to detail that makes them very human.

At the beginning of the book, there is a drawing of the Mayflower that is called a cutaway. It shows what the inside of the ship looked like.

And, believe me, your young readers will come away with a renewed respect for the courage and fortitude of these brave souls when they see the packed quarters they endured.

The Queen Elizabeth ll, it was not.




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