The Mayflower (History Smashers)

by Kate Messner (Author) Dylan Meconis (Illustrator)

The Mayflower (History Smashers)
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Myths! Lies! Secrets! Smash the stories behind famous moments in history and expose the hidden truth. Perfect for fans of I Survived and Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales.

In 1620, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and made friends with Wampanoag people who gave them corn. RIGHT?

WRONG! It was months before the Pilgrims met any Wampanoag people, and nobody gave anybody corn that day. Did you know that the pilgrims didn't go straight from England to Plymouth? No, they made a stop along the way--and almost stayed forever!

Did you know there was a second ship, called the Speedwell, that was too leaky to make the trip? No joke. And just wait until you learn the truth about Plymouth Rock.

Through illustrations, graphic panels, photographs, sidebars, and more, acclaimed author Kate Messner smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the legends of the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving.

"Kate Messner serves up fun, fast history for kids who want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Absolutely smashing!" --Candace Fleming, award-winning author

Don't miss History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote!

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

School Library Journal

Gr 4-7—The latest addition to "History Smashers" focuses on the Mayflower. Readers may think they know everything about the ship, the pilgrims, and the first Thanksgiving, but the text gently corrects assumptions with facts. Truthfully, there was no landing on Plymouth Rock and the settlers didn't call themselves pilgrims. The text presents a frank overview of the crossing of the Atlantic and what happened to the resident Indigenous people after the English settlers landed at Cape Cod. This series speaks directly to middle grade readers, generating and sustaining interest with attention-grabbing text and art (comics and sidebars). There is a little something for everyone in the presentation. Readers might want to compare the primary source entries with Messner's explanations as well as works of familiar, stylized art seen in museums and textbooks. VERDICT This illustrated nonfiction book would be a great addition to any middle school library looking to provide accurate, interesting nonfiction resources. —Kim Gardner, Fort Worth Country Day Sch., TX

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Opening the History Smashers series along with the simultaneously published History Smashers: Women's Right to Vote, this entertaining, informative offering by Messner (The Next President) aims to decolonize the story of the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. Drawing on historical documents and consultations with Linda Coombs, an Aquinnah Wampanoag educator and historian, Messner goes beyond the myths surrounding the English Separatists' journey and gives context often left out of that history. Beginning with the English perspective ("Who Were the Pilgrims, Anyway?"), Messner describes what the sea voyage would have been like, what the travelers actually found when they arrived in what is now the U.S., and the Wampanoag people and culture native to the region the Separatists claimed for themselves. Messner also sheds light on the "first Thanksgiving" and packs the narrative full of historical quotes, helpfully translating history into accessible, contemporary speech. Historical paintings, as well as lighthearted, engaging black-and-white cartoon illustrations by Meconis, frequently in graphic novel-style panels, make complex and often grim history relevant to young readers. A cast list highlighting some individuals from the Mayflower rounds out this well-researched book, a multifaceted resource for any school or library. Back matter includes an author's note and a bibliography. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (July)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for the History Smashers series: 

The book's format may be a good match for those with shorter attention spans, and permits it to be gratifyingly capacious in what it covers. —New York Times Book Review 

Well-researched, entertaining, and packed with facts. - Booklist

Critical, respectful, engaging: exemplary history for children. - Kirkus Reviews

Messner and Meconis provide a timely perspective on an important part of American history. —School Library Journal

A history book for middle-graders that should be on everyone's (child and adult) to-read list. —Shelf Awareness

Kate Messner serves up fun, fast history for kids who want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Absolutely smashing! —Candace Fleming, award-wining author 

Informative and fun, eye-opening and entertaining. I wish I could have read History Smashers when I was in elementary school. I would have devoured them and developed a big appetite for even more of this sort of truth-telling. —Chris Barton, award-winning author

Kate Messner
Kate Messner is an award-winning author whose books for kids have been New York Times Notable, Junior Library Guild, IndieBound, and Bank Street College Best Books selections. She lives on Lake Champlain with her family.

Heather Ross is an illustrator and fabric designer. She lives in New York City and the Catskill Mountains with her husband, daughter, and dog.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
July 20, 2020
History Smashers

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