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What I am Reading Now: Mayflower Girl, by Dr. Precious McKenzie
Mayflower Girl follows an early adolescent girl named Remember Allerton on her family's voyage across the Atlantic in 1620. This is a book targeted to upper elementary students, but I believe a well-told story is suitable for anyone. My wife and I, both of us retired adults, just finished reading it aloud with one another.
The historical voyage of the Mayflower was the stuff of nightmares for everyone involved. Dr. McKenzie filters some of this for her children's audience, but the challenges are clear in her narrative. There are no mean bad guys in this book, but it does not need them to build tension.
It is exceptionally difficult to grasp how people living 400 years ago thought. Dr. McKenzie is an expert in colonial literature and she does an excellent job of it. Among the things I like about this book is the skillful way Dr. McKenzie balances the need to tell a relatable story against the need to present the ways the early colonists saw the world. For example, her presentation of colonization gently places the worldview of the European colonists, who believe they are innocently settling a "wilderness," against the view of the people who are already living there. The presentation given in the book places this issue well within the range of her target audience of 9 to 14 year olds to discuss.