Book Review: Tapenum’s Day

Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ll admit it. This is my favorite of Kate Waters’ historical reenactment series. It tells a story about Tapenum, a Wampanoag boy in the 1620′s, who finds to his chagrin that he has been passed over for the important role of pniese, or warrior counselor. He determines to discipline himself, training both body and mind toward the virtues of strength, quietness, patience, and wisdom. At the end of the day he finds an older man to mentor him.

The story takes place on the Wampanoag Homesite attached to Plimoth Plantation and, like the rest of the series, features photographs of reenactors in period dress. Perhaps because most of the photographs are taken outdoors, their quality is better than that of the other books.  The afterword makes the point that the Wampanoag culture is a living one  — all the reenactors at the village are Wampanoag or members of other Native tribes. Unlike Pilgrim reenactors, they do not take on historical Wampanoag personas.  Rather, they speak to visitors as their modern selves while explaining how the Wampanoag used to live.

Even if you’re not particularly interested in Native American history and culture, this book rounds out the series by providing a short glimpse into what life was like for the majority of people in this country at the time the Pilgrims arrived.  Additionally, Tapenum, young as he is, is focused on mastering the virtues that define manhood in his society. He’s likable and worthy of emulation.

Some readers will want to be alerted that the period dress exposes more of the body than some children’s books.  Women and girls wear modest off-the-shoulder dresses, and males wear loincloths that show their torsos, legs, and hips.

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Publication Information: Waters, Kate. Tapenum's Day. Kendall, Russ (Photographer). Kate Waters Historical Reenactments; Scholastic. 1996. ISBN: 0590202375.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 04-08
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Posted on November 15, 2014

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