Almost Home: A Story Based on the Life of the Mayflower's Mary Chilton
A great way to learn about the Pilgrims
Adventure. Persecution. Danger. Death. Victory. The true story of the Pilgrims, as fictionalized in Wendy Lawton's Almost Home, was all this and more. Mary Chilton (who was a really Puritan who came over on the Mayflower) takes the long journey to the New World with her parents, leaving behind several of her siblings and friends. She's not pleased to leave Holland, despite the fact that her father is stoned and injured by young Dutch boys. She hates being ripped away from home, yet she follows her parents obediently.
Lawton's novel covers all the important aspects of the Mayflower's crossing, from the leaky Speedwell, to a desperate attempt to keep the Mayflower afloat, to the rife, illness, and death that accompanied the Puritans on their Mayflower voyage. Mary Chilton witnesses all these things, and her parents are among the losses on board the ship.
Mary's journey continues to parallel the familiar Pilgrim tale. She eventually moves off the Mayflower and into a widow's home. She experiences both the cold, hungry winter and the prosperous summer. She witnesses her first Indians: Samoset and Squanto. She recognizes Squanto as an instrument of God - an Indian who experienced slavery only to learn about God in Spain - and learn English in England.
But what makes Almost Home better than a history book is the personal history Lawton imagines for her. Mary learns that home is not a place. Home is resting quietly in the hand of God. Through Mary's trials and triumphs she learns God is the "great weaver" of life, and there is nothing so wonderful as trusting in him.
What I Like: This book is an excellent way to teach children the basics of the Pilgrims, their perilous journey on the Mayflower, and their difficult life in the New World. I also appreciate that Lawton covers some of the newly-controversial topics regarding the Pilgrims. For example, she shows Mary and her friends fearful of the Indians, thinking they must be violent barbarians - but at the same time wondering if the could be "simple and pure." One friend concludes the truth about the Indians must be somewhere in the middle. Later, when a group of exploring Pilgrims take corn seeds from a vacant Indian camp, the author shows how some of the Puritans were troubled by the stealing and how some rationalized the theft as a provision from God. Most of all, I enjoyed Mary's journey from an infant-like Christian to a more mature Christian.
What I Dislike: My only complaint is that throughout the book some words are placed in italics. This makes me want to emphasize them as I read, but really the italics are only an indication the word is in a glossary in the back of the book. The glossary is a great idea, but I find the italics annoying.
Overall Rating: Excellent.
Christian Children's Book Review
October 13, 2010
In "Almost Home: A Story Based On The Life Of The Mayflower's Mary Chilton," thirteen year-old Mary longs for a permanent home. Being a Separatist has been difficult for Mary and her family. They left England because of persecution, then ten years later Mary hears rumors of another uprooting. Mary is unsure of leaving, and wonders, Am I the only one to feel like a dandelion puff about to be blown to the wind?The heartaches begin when Mary Chilton and her parents leave family members behind. Living on the MayFlower is filled with hardships, beyond what she could ever imagine. In time, this helps Mary see that home is more than a place.Wendy Lawton's words sing on the page and carried to another Time and Place. Dialogue is easy and meaningful. The language grounded me in 1620. Unfamiliar words are italicized to look up in the glossary. Mrs. Lawton does an excellent job with documentation and an epilogue supporting the facts of Mary Chilton and her family, the Pilgrims, and the Mayflower voyage."Almost Home" will be a hit among young readers. The story will have them looking at maps to follow Mary Chilton's adventure on the Mayflower, and where she steps foot on land in the New World. The story entertains, satisfies the curiosity about our first American ancestors, and allows us to feel the high cost for freedom.
June 18, 2003
Wendy Lawton's Daughters of Faith series gets better with each book.Once again, I met someone I'd not known and learned new information about a place and time in history I thought I knew.Almost Home transports you to the world of Mary Chilton and thrusts you along side her during the journeys from Leyden, Holland to England and onto the New World. You experience everything as Mary does as she encounters triumphs and trials along her journey to freedom--and home.Wendy Lawton's books are a parent or teacher's delight. New words, complete with a glossary, history, geography and more can be taught using these compelling books children will enjoy reading. Lessons taught from these books will be fun and challenging rather than a dreaded chore.A must have for every home, school and church library--and get the others, too, if you don't already have them!
April 18, 2003
Oh, how I wished these books were around when I was a girl! This latest edition to the Daughters of the Faith series had me roaming around Holland and being tossed around in the Mayflower as I journeyed with young Mary Chilton. The rich descriptions and engaging story had me hooked from beginning to end as Mary edured the hardships of that difficult journey. This book is a must read for girls of all ages and would be a wonderful addition to any classroom or homeschool library. Cheers to Ms. Lawton for another wonderful story!
April 3, 2003