Encounter (Voyager Books)

by Jane Yolen

Other authorsDavid Shannon (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1996



Local notes

E Yol




HMH Books for Young Readers (1996), Edition: First, 32 pages


A Taino Indian boy on the island of San Salvador recounts the landing of Columbus and his men in 1492.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

32 p.; 9 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member jrozean0128
Encounter is a book about Columbus landing in San Salvador Oct. 12, 1492 told from the perspective of a young Taino boy. The Taino were the tribe of American Indians who live on the island before the coming of the Europeans to the Americas. The story begins with a bad dream the boy had about the
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coming invasion. He begs his elders to not welcome the Europeans. We all know how this story ends. By 1548 only a handful (500) of the islands original inhabitants remained, compared to the 300,000 that were there at the time of Columbus’ arrival. The tale ends with the young boy as an old man who looks at how his island and his people have been changed forever.

This book moved me quite impressively. I have heard this story before many times, but in most cases it is told from the perspective of the Europeans and the so called “progress” made in the development of the American land. It is an interesting perspective. Columbus and his entourage are not viewed as heroes. They are invaders and occupiers who wiped out an entire race of people.

This book can be used while teaching a social studies lesson on the European explorers of Columbus time. I think this point of view is one that is too often overlooked in today’s schools. I would also have the students do an arts and craft project, where the students would use beads and string to make necklaces and other jewelry like the Taino people are wearing in the pictures from the book.
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LibraryThing member aje3
This is another one of my favorites. I love the book because it gives a different point of view about Columbus' "discovering America." A native American boy is telling the story, and I find his observations about the "white men" quite interesting. I believe it's a good book to bring about a
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conversation. The issues it raises are often overlooked when we are celebrating Columbus Day. I consider it a must read for all elemenatry students.
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LibraryThing member justinscott66
Finally, I have found a childrens book that provides a different perspective to Columbus' "discovery." Partnered with the David Shannon's incredible illustrations, Yolen tells a story of European savagery through the eyes of a child. "Encounter" is a perfect companion to virtually any literature
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teachers traditionally use around Thanksgiving. Howard Zinn would be proud.
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LibraryThing member jaia
This book tells of the arrival of white man to the Americas from the eyes of a young Native American boy. Having a bad dream one night of giant white birds eating the land, the boy is horrified to find the same "birds" in the bay the next morning. He knows that it is a bad omen, but his people are
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accustomed to welcoming strangers.
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LibraryThing member jaytuck.NW
This is the very famous tale of Columbus' discovery of 'The New World' told from the perspective of those people who already lived in a world they considered anything but new. It is the story of how they lost their land to a man and a people with whom they could neither understand or be understood
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by. The book has an overall dark feeling and some of the illustrations may even be frightening to some children, but this is all an affect that I believe he author and illustrator to be well aware of. The experience of being invaded and conquered by a foreign people would be both frightening and dark for any young boy, and this story makes the point of allowing children to not just hear this young boy's perspective but to feel it as well.
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LibraryThing member kyaffee
o This story is told from the perspective of a Taino boy. The story is about his first encounter with Christopher Columbus and what happens after he arrives. The story is very useful when talking about multiple perspectives of Christopher Columbus and also in general. Perspectives are an important
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part of history and this book would allow teachers to show students how a Native American felt about the “discovery” of America. This is often a perspective that is left out of textbooks for elementary aged students and incorporating this book into the curriculum would be a great alternative.
o Lesson Suggestion: After students have read or learned about a positive perspective of Christopher Columbus create a chart with characteristics they would consider him. Then read the book Encounter. After reading this book make another chart with characteristics the students think describe Christopher Columbus.
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LibraryThing member Andreawallin
Reaction: Shannon impressively moved the story along and built on the changing tone of the story with his dark illustrations, gestures and expressions. Yolen’s written story was full of emotion and had enough detail for the reader/viewer to gain a better understanding of this historical time
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period. This would be a great discussion starter for a time in history we know little about as most of the information is from Columbus’ point of view.
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LibraryThing member nmhale
This is one of the picture books that shows a historical event through a fictional character's perspective. He is a young Taino boy, living on the island now called San Salvador. He has a nightmare of three great winged birds with sharp white teeth. The next day, Columbus and his men arrive on
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three white-sailed boats. The boy tries to warn his people, but he is just a child, and ignored. His people offer Columbus the welcome they give to all strangers, and are fooled by the foreigner's round stones and red hats. But the boy sees the greedy look of the Europeans and the serpent smile of their teeth.

The tragic story captures a perspective of history that is only slowly emerging into the mainstream, that of the Native American's opinion of Columbus. Even though most of us have recognized that Columbus and the other "explorers" were wrong in their actions, I think that most people still view the Native Americans as the foreigners. Yolen does an excellent job in portraying the Europeans as the strange ones, with odd characteristics and behaviors.

I strive to be open to other cultures and beliefs, and this book reminded me of my own biases, and the need to look through other eyes once in a while. Also, historical violence and the importance of perspective are lessons that we all need to be reminded of. In addition to all these values of the book, Yolen again writes with poetic skill, capturing the voice of this precocious young Taino child and the sorrow of his collapsing world.
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LibraryThing member Dportnoy
This book is great to incorporate into a social studies unit! The book describes the encounter that the Native Americans had with Christopher Columbus and the early settlers. It is great for young readers to see the truth about the many diseases and infections that the early settlers brought with
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them. I definitely recommend reading this book in the classroom!
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LibraryThing member edeidrich
Jane Yolen offers a converse view of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the new world from the perspective of the indigenous people who were the resipient of Spanish colonization. The acrylic artwork, provided by David Shannon, adds depth and context to the story by showing the mental and physical
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visions of the native child who recalls the arrival of the "pale strangers." This book should definitely be used in conjunction with other literary resources when discussing Christopher Columbus to show the differences in author intent and subject matter.
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LibraryThing member tstato1
Christopher Columbus touched ground in San Salvador in the 1400s. A boy of the native tribe warns his people against welcoming the explorers. The explorers seem more interested in golden and goods rather than friendship with the tribe. The boy is kidnapped and is now an old man and reflects
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on how their tribe was destroyed by the explorers colonization.

I thought this book was very powerful. I appreciated that this story was told through the eyes of a young boy. He continually tried to warn he tribe of the dangers of the explorers, but no one would listen to him because he was so young. I was also impressed that the young boy noticed that the explorers were more interested in the gold and treasures then the opportunity for friendship. I liked that this story gave the story of Christopher Columbus, the basis of Columbus Day, from the perspective of the Native Americans.
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LibraryThing member pjw1173
This is a good text to use when trying to help students develop their critical literacy skils. The story is told from the perspective of a young native boy whose island is 'found' by Columbus. The boy tells the reader how he distrusts Columbus and his men and tries to warn his people who don't see
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Columbus as a threat. The boy and others are taken by Columbus, but the boy escapes and swims back to the island. He regrets how Columbus destroyed his people and their culture.
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LibraryThing member kellycaboose
I would use this book to show the impact of the European explorers on Native Americans. The story is told from a Taino Native American. The pictures are big and bold. The message is too.
LibraryThing member kellycaboose
I would use this book to show the impact of the European explorers on Native Americans. The story is told from a Taino Native American. The pictures are big and bold. The message is too.
LibraryThing member wichitafriendsschool
When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, what he discovered were the Taino Indians. Told from a young Taino boy’s point of view, this is a story of how the boy tried to warn his people against welcoming the strangers, who seemed more interested in golden ornaments
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than friendship. Years later the boy, now an old man, looks back at the destruction of his people and their culture by the colonizers.
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LibraryThing member jthodesen01
This is a great book to utilize in a first, second, or third grade language arts or social studies classroom. The book discusses the relationship between the indians and the white man, which could be utilized in a compare and contrast activity. Educators would read this text aloud to the class.
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This text could also be utilized in a lesson on integration, or the lack there of. It could also be utilized in a class discussion about how someone makes their voice heard and known by all. The text isn't too long, but some of the vocabulary may be challenging for beginner readers.
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LibraryThing member ashewert
Encounter tells the story of the meeting of the Indians with Christopher Columbus. The young Indian boy that is telling the story, tells of a dream that he has that feels like a warning to his people. He does not believe that the strangers that are entering the land of his people should be welcomed
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or trusted, but no one will listen to him because he is just a child. As history has played out, it turns out that the boy was right and that these new people with light moon like skin are not good people and want to change the ways that the Indians are living once they have earned their trust. The boy escapes and later reflects on what he always knew to be true.

This book would be a great example of how Christopher Columbus and the holiday that we celebrate is not all that it seems. It also demonstrates a story being told from a child's point of view and how sometimes because you are younger, adults may not always listen to what you are saying, even if you are right.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
The story of Christopher Columbus' first meeting with the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere, when he and his men came ashore on San Salvador, on October 12, 1492, is here told from the perspective of a young Taino boy. After a terrible dream involving three white birds, the boy tries to
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warn his elders when three extraordinary 'canoes' show up on their shores, but to no avail. The white strangers, who seem almost human, are welcomed, and the consequences are terrible and long-lasting...

Published in 1992, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus' landfall on San Salvador, Encounter is meant to retell a familiar story - the 'discovery' of the 'New World' by Europeans - from an important but long-neglected perspective. The story does not reference many of the terrible things done by Columbus and his men directly. Rather, it concentrates on the narrator's first encounter with these strange non-quite human creatures, describes the feeling of unease the boy experiences, and his escape from their great ship, when he is taken away. After brief mention of his efforts to warn others, the narrative then skips ahead to the narrator's old age, as he looks back on the changes the coming of Europeans brought to his home island and region. On the whole, I find this approach quite constructive, and think it is age appropriate for younger children, perhaps six and under. It's important not to hide the terrible aspects of human history from children, but I believe it's equally important to consider the well-being of the child, when thinking of how to present that history to them. I have little patience with those who would whitewash history, but I have even less for those who would wallow in every historical atrocity, and insist that others do the same. When that insistence involves children, I become even less patient, as it often seems to me that such people preference their own desires - to share what they see as the truth, to feel righteous - over the psychological welfare of those most dependent upon them for protection and care.

All of which is to say, I prefer balance in these matters. Teach the truth, show multiple perspectives, and choose what specific narratives to share based on the developmental needs of the audience. I recently read three picture-book biographies of Christopher Columbus - David A. Adler's A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus, Peter Sís' Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus and Demi's Columbus - in order to mark Columbus Day, and each takes a different approach to this issue. The Adler mentions but does not explore the impact Columbus' voyages had on the people of the Caribbean, the Sís' does not explore the aftermath of that landfall on San Salvador whatsoever, and the Demi offers the fullest depiction of some of the deleterious effects of the arrival of Europeans in the Caribbean. Each approach would work best with a slightly different age group, and for a different purpose, whether to learn about Columbus' life or to explore what drives explorers to head off into the unknown. Whatever the focus may be however, each one of these books is told from the perspective of Columbus, making a book like Encounter valuable, in its presentation of the parallel perspective of the native Taino. The fact that it is told (mostly) from a child's perspective makes it more powerful, as do the striking illustrations of David Shannon. I would recommend this one as a companion volume to any of the biographies mentioned above, and think it could be used in a Columbus Day lesson for younger children, or even in a lesson about how perspective shapes the historical narratives we embrace as a culture.
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LibraryThing member tracyhintz
Good read aloud for Columbus day any age.... 9 2nd- 5th) offers a view point from the natives when Columbus landed in the "new World." Good illustrations - multi cultural iimages
LibraryThing member SJeanneM
I thought this book had great imagery and wonderful pictures in illustration but I felt doubtful that this is what an actual Taino boy would have said and this is sort of how it was portrayed. Both my older children asked whether this was a real boy and whether this really happened and it is hard
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for kids to understand that part of it happened and maybe the other part didn't
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LibraryThing member matthewbloome
This retelling of Christopher Columbus's first landfall is told from the point of view of a Taino boy who senses that it will be bad from the time that the ships lay anchor in the harbor. He sees through all the supposed kindnesses that Columbus and his men offer and is one of the Taino that are
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tricked into being kidnapped by the sailors when they depart. He luckily jumps overboard, however, and returns to the islands to warn his people. Sadly, his warnings go unheeded because he is a child, and his people are overcome by the Spaniards that are to come later until no more of his culture remains. This is a well-told story, despite its depressing overtone. It's historical, and when a period in history is that dark, there's no avoiding the tone matching the history. This is another great example of historical fiction by Jane Yolen.
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(70 ratings; 4.1)
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