Long before Harry Houdini thrilled the world with his impossible deeds, America had produced an escape artist whose biography reads like an adventure novel. Many readers will know John Smith as the man rescued from death by Pocahontas, but Smith's story included a series of fantastic episodes: escape from imprisonment, ambush by Indians, attacks by ruthless sea pirates, and more escapades than seem possible in one life. Now, just in time for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, author Rosalyn Schanzer recounts the full details of John Smith's eventful life in her engaging storytelling style, complemented with a series of entertaining illustrations. Smith's role as the president of the pioneering colony of Jamestown is well known to schoolchildren. Schanzer's compelling narrative adds the perspective of Smith's English background to his better known adventures in America. Readers are given a complete portrait of the intrepid explorer and adventurer, of the fighter whose battling spirit always prevailed, and of the writer whose work was to shape the idea of the American Dream. Smith's story is punctuated by several impossibly daring escapes. His final escape left us with the rich legacy of his life story: through his writings, he escaped the fate of dying unknown. He returned to England as a poor man with a rich trove of memories, spending his final years writing the popular books that defined colonial America in tales of excitement and courage.
Rosalyn Schanzer is the award-winning author and illustrator of numerous books for children. She lives in Fairfax Station, Virginia.