Title: Pedro’s JournalPedros-Journal
Author: Pam Conrad
Illustrator: Peter Koeppen
Pages: 80
Reading Level: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★

What have we here? A “journal” from Columbus’ Santa Maria?!?

The Story.

Pedro de Salcedo is a ship’s boy. And he’s not just any ship’s boy – he’s the ship’s boy aboard Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria! Excited to be experiencing grand new adventures, Pedro is engrossed with his new duties and his new Captain. What has given this man such great inspiration? And will that inspiration end up killing them all?

Cautions.

Pedro has a very positive relationship with his mother – although we join his story when he is already a sea at and he has not returned home by the time the story ends, their relationship nevertheless guides Pedro on many occasions. He often addresses his mother in his journal and thinks of her fondly, longing to return to her.

The religion of Pedro’s Journal is definitely Catholic. Hail Marys, rosaries, masses are mentioned. There are actually a number of respectful prayers and references to God, but they are in the context of Catholicism.

Columbus himself is portrayed in a negative light as a fanatic who is harsh, unjust, untruthful, and not worthy of respect. When the natives mistake Columbus and his men for deities, Columbus does nothing to discourage their worship, but instead encourages them in it.

Pedro writes of seeing naked natives. He says, “My mother would have lowered her eyes or looked away, as I have seen her do in our home when someone dresses, but I could not take my eyes off them.” [pg. 38]

Pedro says that the crew was happy because “the Indian girls are very pretty and sport freely with them.” [pg. 44]

Sea monsters, mermaids, and omens are mentioned. Also, the story is told of an island where cannibalistic people live who have dog heads with one eye at the center of their forehead.

Conclusion. Pedro’s Journal isn’t terrible, but better resources on Columbus could probably be found.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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