Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: Roanoke The Lost Colony

Roanoke: The Lost Colony - An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen & Heidi Stemple
Illustrated by Roger Roth

This historical fiction book is the story of a little girl trying to be a detective that solves the unsolved mysteries from history. As the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke is told, she includes pages from her notebooks where she lists other relevant facts as well as sticky notes from her list of important vocabulary words with their definitions.

At the end of the book there are five theories as to what could have happened to the settlers at Roanoke Island. She mentions that this mystery is an "open file" because it has never been solved.

Since the fate of these settlers is open ended, this provides a great opportunity for students to come up with their own ideas about what happened to them. They can choose from the solutions in the book, or create their own. The girl in the book says "Only remember, as my dad always says, Check your clues," which would require the students to support their conclusions with facts.
Map from Total History
I loved this book. I remember learning about Roanoke in fourth grade and I couldn't get my head around the thought that no one knew what happened to this colony! I thought it was so interesting! So I was very excited to read this book in the fourth grade class I substituted for that I mentioned in Civil War on Sunday. (And I'm just now thinking how strange it was that students were reading a Civil War book and one about Roanoke and colonization at the same time....)

The authors provide a whole list of sources where they got the historical information for this book. There is also a list of websites with more information on the history of Roanoke. It is very important to give sources when writing about a historical time, especially when it's about 1587 and there's no way the author could've experienced it themselves!

The illustrations by Roger Roth were created with pencils and watercolors on watercolor paper. All of the pages are full bleed, two page spreads, except when the little girl is talking. The illustrations are full of blues, greens, and darker colors. There are not many bright colors used in this book. I think that might help set the stage that it is a mystery. But it could also just be because most of the story takes place outside or on the water.

This book is part of the Unsolved Mystery from History series by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple and also illustrated by Roger Roth. There are three other books in the series, The Mary Celeste, The Salem Witch Trials, and The Wolf Girls. I would be very interested to read about the Salem Witch Trials because that was also so interesting to me as well!

In 2007, Roanoke: The Lost Colony, the movie was created starring no one I've ever heard of. If anyone ends up seeing this, let me know how it is!

There are so many websites and books about Roanoke! has an awesome video that I couldn't figure out how to upload on here about Roanoke. One of their theories is that John White returned and found all of the people dead, but the Queen in England knew that if people thought the New World meant certain death, that new colonists would never go and create new colonies for them, so they covered it up saying it was a big mystery. I think that is a very interesting idea! has a section on the history of Roanoke as well. There is also The Lost Colony website. Here is a news article about a new clue that may help solve the mystery of The Lost Colony of Roanoke!

1 comment:

  1. Nice theory!Never heard that one before