post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Pedro’s Journal
Author: Pam Conrad
Major Themes: Christopher Columbus, Exploration, Sailing
Synopsis: Christopher Columbus’s cabin boy describes their voyage across the ocean as they search for a new route to India and Japan.
What would it have been like to have sailed with Christopher Columbus? We just spent a week studying Columbus and his discoveries, and as a part of that study read Pedro’s Journal. I’ve read this one aloud a couple of other times and have always enjoyed it.
Pedro has signed on as cabin boy with Christopher Columbus. He decides to keep a journal so that his mother can read all about his adventures when he returns to Spain. As the cabin boy, he sees a side of Columbus that the crew never sees. He sees the doubts, as well as fact that Columbus is hiding their actual distance traveled from the crew. Along with the rest of the men on board, Pedro wonders if they will ever reach land, or if they are doomed to wander the seas for ever.
After reaching land, there is more conflict in Pedro’s mind. He sees the way Columbus and his crew relate to the natives, and wonders if it is right. He can’t stand the parrots that the crew insist on collecting. And then, one night, he sinks the flagship. What will happen now?
I like this book as an introduction to Columbus and his discovery. It is a good resource when you are studying the Age of Exploration or American history with younger children. I found it quite true-to-life; a fairly matter-of-fact account rather than an overly dramatized story.