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James Town History in Entertaining Novel for the YA Audience

Updated on July 7, 2019
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Historical Facts Mixed With an Entertaining Story Create a Great Read

History mixed with a good story for the YA audience
History mixed with a good story for the YA audience | Source

The Colony of James Town Life as seen Through the Eyes of a Young Girl

Elisa Carbone's Poison in the Colony: James Town 1622 is a mix of historical facts and an entertaining story that the YA audience will find to be a page-turner. It is not easy to find historical novels that young readers will actually read. This companion book to Carbone's Blood on the River is one that young readers will want to read.

The character of Virginia Layden is now a young girl in the Jamestown colony. She lives with her family in a one-room house and makes her way daily through the challenges that life in the New World presents to the colonists who have arrived from England. She has friends who have arrived on ships and are orphans. She also has friends from the Algonquian tribe. Virginia has a secret talent that must never be discovered by anyone in the colony. Her mother often warns her not to let this secret out because Virginia would be killed if her secret was discovered. She uses her secret of the power of "knowing the future" sparingly and is careful not to actually show that she has this talent. Virginia is afraid of being branded as a witch in Jamestown if her secret is discovered.

Virginia and her friends have adventures of helping to save others from danger throughout the story. She helps many people in need throughout the story. She uses her secret gift to help the other colonists avoid the possibility of being poisoned by Indians. Virginia learns a life lesson that one must be true to themselves as she lives the struggles of the colonists as a young girl.

Poison in the Colony: James Town 1622 is a mix of historical facts and entertaining adventures. Carbone writes in her Author's Note at the end of the book that she has included the most important events in the colony of James Town as historically accurate by gathering information from historical records. She writes that each character was either a real person in the colony of James Town or named for a real person. She got the idea for Virginia's gift of "knowing" from a friend of her mother's who was extremely intuitive and was an actual descendent of the first James Town settlers. Her inclusion of what may have really happened to Pocahontas is of interest.

Poison in the Colony: James Town 1622 was published by Penguin/Random House Penguin Young Readers and is recommended for ages 8-12. Historical facts intertwined with a good story make this a great choice for young readers who might be reluctant to read history books. It has an ISBN of 978-0-425-29183-2.

History Intertwined with a Good Story

Source

Bring Virginia and Her Life in the James Town Colony Into the Classroom


Carbone's Poison in the Colony: James Town in 1622 is a great choice for teachers who teach history in the middle grades. Cold historical facts in history books are often not of interest to young readers. Carbone intertwines historical facts with an exciting read to introduce the history of the colony of James Town to ages 8-12.

*Chapter books are often chosen to read aloud in a class reading session with several chapters read each day. Read aloud in a group reading session to provide the chance for all students to share in the reading.

*Have an atlas available for students to locate the colony of James Town.

*Have several resources available for students to use to discover the Indian tribes that were neighbors to the colonists during this time.

*The topic of witchcraft is an interesting side note to the history of James Town. Have resources available to the students to learn more about the accusations of witchcraft in the colony and the punishments that colonists received if they accused of practicing witchcraft.

*Assign class projects for more research about the colony of James Town after reading Poison in the Colony: James Town 1622. Divide the class into small groups to present a project about life in the colonies with a topic of of their choice.

*Assign a creative writing project for students to write their account of what life might be like for them if they had lived with their family in the new colony.

© 2019 Cindy Hewitt

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