HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Voyagers: Being Legends and Romances of Atlantic Discovery
Author: Padraic Colum
Illustrator: Wilfred Jones
Publisher: The Macmillan Company, 1925
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 12-16
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Colum, Padraic. The Voyagers: Being Legends and Romances of Atlantic Discovery (published in 1925 and republished in 1927 by The Macmillan Company, New York City, NY). The author Padraic Colum, whose The Golden Fleece and the Heroes who Lived before Achilles was a Newbery honor book in 1922, uses a gathering of seafaring explorers at the home of Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) to frame a series of stories about the Atlantic Ocean and its fabled lands. Men from all over Europe come to him to tell their tales of ocean voyages, which vary from the mythological Atlantis, through the legendary Maelduin and Saint Brendan, to the historical Leif “the Lucky” Ericson, Christopher Columbus, Ponce de Leon, the Virginia Company including John Smith, and Amerigo Vespucci. The stories are presented in a very enjoyable and readable fashion, although reluctant readers may find that the first 100 pages or so are a little difficult to wade through because Collum shares legends from a variety of ancient cultures who imagined more than they knew about the western ocean.
Apparently, the title of the book, which was also a Newbery Honor Book in 1926, was originally The Voyagers: Being Legends and Histories of Atlantic Discovery but I presume was changed because some of the tales were fanciful legends rather than actual facts. It is interesting how different reviewers react towards the same book. One wrote “These stories are so fantastic and in some ways so lacking in modern interest that it makes for slow reading….This is a book for the small cadre of legend lovers. I can’t imagine a modern child finding much to hold their attention.” I suspect that this is probably true for kids whose attention span is governed by half-hour television sitcoms and bang bang shoot ‘em up video games. Yet, another said, “I would strongly recommend this one for any child (although this child is usually a boy in my mind’s eye) who loves adventure stories.” As a lover of adventure stories myself, I would tend to agree with the latter.