Wonderful Historical Fiction for Kids from Susan Kilbride ~ A Review

If, like me, you are always on the lookout for excellent historical fiction for your children or your homeschool, you’re going to love hearing about the book we just finished! The book is from Susan Kilbride’s Our America Series, called The Pilgrim Adventure.  We received a softcover book to read and review, along with a neat unit study to go along with it.

Pilgrim Adventure banner

Who is Susan Kilbride?

Are you familiar with Susan Kilbride?  She is an author, a writer of curricula, and a homeschooling mom as well!  You can visit Susan’s website at Funtastic Unit Studies, where she blogs, lists great books and helpful websites for homeschooling moms and teachers, and links for her own books and curricula.  We actually became fans of Susan Kilbride when we reviewed her Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers earlier this summer.  It is probably the most exciting and interesting science study we’ve done!  (You can read more about our experiences with it at Amazing Science Experiments with Funtastic Unit Studies.)  Susan has the ability to take complex subjects or topics, and make them very clear and understandable to students.  She also makes them very exciting, which we’ve seen in her unit studies and now in her historical fiction!

 

Reading!

Reading!

What is the Our America Series?

The Our America Series, a collection of historical fiction novels for young people, tells about the adventures of Finn and Ginny, two homeschooled twin children who live with their aunt and uncle after their parents disappear.  To their shock and surprise, the twins discover that their parents ARE indeed missing….but they’re missing in time!  Their uncle has a time machine and somehow the parents accidentally activated it, and now they are missing somewhere in the past.  But no one knows where (or when), and they’re missing the controller that will enable them to return to their own time.

You can guess what happens next!  Finn and Ginny (unbeknownst to their aunt and uncle) decide to go back in time and find their parents, and return them to the present day.  And, a book series is born!  The Our America Series has six historical fiction books about Finn and Ginny searching for their parents, in a different time and place:

  • The Pilgrim Adventure
  • The King Philip’s War Adventure
  • The Salem Adventure
  • The Revolutionary War Adventure
  • The Pioneer Adventure
  • The Civil War Adventure

This book series is written for ages 10-13, and can be used either as readers or read-alouds.

Our America: The Pilgrim Adventure

The Pilgrim Adventure introduces us to Finn and Ginny, and their Uncle Peter and Aunt Martha.  We learn about their sadness and confusion over their missing parents.  But one day, Finn can’t believe his eyes as he looks out the window and sees his Uncle Peter, who’s standing in front of a tree….simply disappear!  And minutes later, Uncle Peter is walking down the stairs to Finn and Ginny.  Finn confronts his uncle, who just brushes his words aside.

But, a little later, Uncle Peter lets the twins in on his secret and explains that he has invented a time machine.  Concerned about what he feels is America’s loss of her history, and using his science background, he develops a way to go back in time.  But before he can explain to the twins’ parents how it works, they accidentally transport themselves into the past.  And they have no way to return to the future.

This is sort of comforting to Finn and Ginny; they finally know what happened to their beloved parents.  But it’s not long before they decide that THEY are going to look for them.  They sneak into the room where the time machine remote is one afternoon when their aunt and uncle are out…find the remote…and they’re off!

They are shocked to find themselves on a tossing ship in the middle of the ocean, with people they’ve never seen, dressed in period clothing (as they are as well!).  It is the Mayflower!  They’re greeted by a boy who calls them “cousins.”  And the adventure begins!

Before Finn and Ginny head back to their own time, they will experience life aboard the Pilgrim’s ship, nurse sick settlers, meet Squanto and Massasoit AND their own ancestors, and help build the new settlement.  They actually LIVE in a part of America’s history!

 

Working on our family tree

Working on our family tree

Free Unit Study for The Pilgrim Adventure

Susan has also developed an excellent and free unit study for each of the books in the Our America Series, which she has available at her website, on the Our America Series page as well as on the Lessons and Activities page.  We found the unit study for The Pilgrim Adventure quite interesting!  In this unit study, you can find many activities that tie into the book, like:

  • Discovering your own family tree
  • Sewing a Pilgrim pocket
  • Baking sea biscuits
  • Constructing a quadrant
  • Playing quoits
  • and more!
Preparing for a game of quoits

Preparing for a game of quoits

We haven’t completed all the activities from the unit study yet.  But we really enjoyed beginning an investigation of our family tree and playing quoits.  And we’re looking forward to cooking a Pilgrim & Indian meal together!

What we thought:

Ever since we discovered Susan Kilbride’s excellent Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers, we have expected wonderful things with her other publications.  And, The Pilgrim Adventure absolutely did not disappoint!  Because we were both so excited about this historical novel, we chose to use it as a read-aloud, although Jackson, my 13-year-old, could have easily read it on his own.  The book contains 27 chapters plus a historical facts chapter at the end, as well as reprints of some of the key Pilgrim documents and quotes.

We loved the idea of time travel.  Finn and Ginny acted like normal kids might have in this situation, and it was so fun to imagine them meeting and interacting with actual historical figures.  It was also a treat to read about homeschoolers having this adventure!  (You have to admit that there aren’t that many books about homeschooled kiddos on the market today!)  And, it helped us to imagine what really happened with the Pilgrims.

Susan Kilbride did a great job researching this period of history, and combining it with the experience of two siblings on a mission to find their parents, yet still having to interact with the men, women and children of this era.  The Pilgrim Adventure is definitely a page-turner, and it left us wanting to know more about Finn and Ginny and their time travel….and their parents!

In conclusion:

You may purchase The Pilgrim Adventure and the other titles in the Our America Series at Susan Kilbride’s website, Funtastic Unit Studies.  I highly recommend The Pilgrim Adventure to you, for family read-alouds or for your 10-13 year old to read on his own!  It’s a great addition whether you’re preparing for Thanksgiving, studying early America, or just looking for an excellent adventure.

Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure:  From time to time, finchnwren receives a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinions, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

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