American Dream: The New World, Colonial Times, and Hints of Revolution is  four books collected into one. This collection from the Sisters in Time series is published by Barbour Publishing (Reprint edition, 2011). Historical fiction, the novels are about young Christian girls who experience the real changes and challenges that were a part of the early days in American history. All of the books have a vocabulary section. Each of them also has a history section which gives more background on historical figures such as Miles Standish, William Bradford, etc. who play minor roles in the books. The first two stories are penned by Colleen L. Reece.

The first novel, The New World, is viewed through Sarah’s eyes. It begins in Holland where a number of the Puritans have gone to escape religious persecution in England. They have been in the Netherlands for some years. Now Sarah and her family are among those who are considering leaving to settle in Virginia. There they hope to find religious freedom. Her family decides they will join the group who are going. Not all of the Puritans will leave. Some will remain behind and in some cases families will be divided.

The would-be colonists prepare for their journey. Many months pass before they can depart, but finally the Speedwell, their ship, is ready to set sail for Southampton, England. In Southampton the settlers meet up with more settlers and the Speedwell and the Mayflower set sail.

Young Sarah and her family are on the Speedwell, an old ship.  The voyagers encounter rough seas. Finally it is too much for the Speedwell. The ship must return to England for repairs. Sarah’s family must decide what to do. They decide to continue on to the New World on the Mayflower.

On the sea voyage Sarah learns in practical ways what it means to be a young colonial woman. The journey also tests her faith in God, her confidence in herself and her ability to remain optimistic. Will she hear the famous words, “land ho”? Will the Mayflower find the shore and will the new colony be settled?

Rebekah in Danger, the next novel, was also written by Colleen L. Reece. In this book the Mayflower has reached land. But it is not the place the colonists’ expected; it is not Virginia. The ship has been blown off course and it is late fall. Rebekah and the others are eager to get off the ship but  must remain on board until an area is found to settle. Under the leadership of Miles Standish the colonists secure an area and find some food. Rebekah and others soon realize that the colony is in danger from disease and starvation. Will Rebekah and her family survive the winter? Things go from bad to worse for the colony when the common house burns and the governor takes ill.

On the voyage from England Rebekah and her brother had encountered a rough and tough sailor named Jake. He was not a Christian, but Rebekah discovered he had a soft spot for children. Rebekah and her brother began praying for him and talking with him. In time Jake’s hard heart was softened by God and he learned about Rebekah’s faith. Sadly, Jake becomes ill, but before he dies he has one thing to tell Rebekah and her brother. He wants them to know that he accepted the Lord.

Finally, spring and planting season arrives. The weakened colonists plant corn and other crops given to them by the Native Americans. At harvest time the new governor, William Bradford, announces a day of thanks to the Lord. The Native Americans are invited to join the colonists in the celebration and so the first Thanksgiving is created.

These two books bring history alive for young girls. The books show Christianity in historical settings. It makes a person wonder if the struggles of  Christians today are that different from those in the past. The lessons the characters learn are still a major part of childhood today. These books are great for pre-teen girls who like history and want to learn more through a person their age.

Kristina O’Brien is a mother of twin girls, an avid reader and a credentialed teacher. She has taught both middle school and high school history. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoys raising her two girls.

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