Roanoke The Lost Colony: An Unsolved Mystery from History
Jane Yolen and Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple
Illustrated by Roger Roth
Non-Fiction Picture Book (Series)
Ages 6 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2003, 0-689-82321-5
The first English settlement at Roanoke had not been a success. Relations with the Indians in the area had gone sour when the English had treated them badly and the settlers had given up, returning home to England. Then Sir Walter Raleigh chose an artist, John White, to lead a new group of people to Virginia. It was hoped that this time the colony would prosper and become a permanent settlement. With plenty of soldiers to protect the colonists and two Indian guides to help communicate with the Indians surely this time things would go well.
The plan was to build a new settlement in the Chesapeake Bay but in the end the colonists ended up in Roanoke where they set about rebuilding a new settlement. It was a hard time. There were altercations with the local Indian tribes and food was scarce. As winter approached it was decided that White would return to England to get supplies and help. It was agreed that if the colonists left Roanoke, they would leave a message carved on a tree to let White know where they had gone.
It took White several years before he was able to return to America and when he arrived he found that the fort at Roanoke had been abandoned. A message had been left but White was not given the chance to investigate further and the mystery of what had happened to the Roanoke colonists was never solved.
Of course there are many theories about the fate of the colonists, and the author shares some of the most popular ones with her readers. She asks a lot of questions to encourage young people to think about the problem for themselves. Not only is the story written with great skill and with a sense of the dramatic, but the author helps her readers see that history can be exciting and interesting.
In addition to the story, the author provides her readers with notes explaining points of interest and with definitions of some of the more difficult words that are used in the text.
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