Skip to main content

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune by P. J. Lynch

I have long admired the artwork of P.J. Lynch, ever since I read Melisande, E. Nesbit's fairy tale about a princess who, cursed at birth, grows up bald, but happy until an overlooked wish is uncovered and things go awry. In what I am pretty sure is his first picture book as both author and illustrator, The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune, P.J. Lynch proves that he is as gifted a story teller with words as he is with pictures. Together, his talents increase exponentially.

Lynch begins his story in London, a fine city that smells horrible. John Howland, indentured servant to John Carver and narrator of The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune, works mostly as a messenger for Carver. Preparing for the journey across the Atlantic, Howland plays a key role "copying out lists of supplies and letters to the business men" who were lending money to fund the journey. It interested me to learn that Howland was literate. Lynch, both with words and pictures, makes the harsh, brutal journey vivid in the cold, wetness and squalid living situations that he brings to life. 

Things don't get much better when the Mayflower reaches land, with half of their people dead or dying by the time they reached land. The continued struggles of the pilgrims were grim, but the arrival of Squanto, a Patuxet who was kidnapped and taken to England where he lived for years, learning to speak English fluently. When he was finally able to return to his tribe, he found them decimated by plague brought by the white man. Squanto and John Howland's interactions were possibly the most fascinating part of the story for me, after Lynch's magnificent illustrations, of course.


What makes The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland's Good Fortune stand out from the many other picture books about the Mayflower, the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, which is broached here, is the first person narrative of Howland. Not only did he survive the crossing and the first challenging years of the Plymouth Colony, it is interesting to learn that he had never planned on staying in the first place. Howland had three years to go on his servitude. When his master and eventually his master's wife died, leaving him free, he prepared to leave but didn't. P.J. Lynch has managed to take a story that I thought I knew so well I was bored with and made it interesting to me again, as I know he will do for all readers fortunate enough to pick up this gorgeous, important book.

More books by P.J. Lynch:


Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…