Fritz has depicted the life of Pocahontas as honestly and accurately as possible. Because Pocahontas left no personal records, Fritz wrote her story using accounts of the Jamestown settlers and those of John Smith. She takes great care to inform the reader when she is making assumptions by using such clue words as “maybe,” “might,” and “perhaps.” The book provides an unusual amount of background information about the Jamestown colony, which increases the reader’s understanding of the historical period.
In explaining her standards for selecting individuals to write about, Fritz wrote that “I don’t have to like the people I write about, but I do need to understand them. And however we end up—my subject and I—I expect to share with my readers a compassion that springs from looking at the world through someone else’s eyes.” Fritz accomplishes this goal with Pocahontas, as the reader can sense the difficulties that Pocahontas faced in living with and caring for people in two different cultures.
Pocahontas is described as a favorite daughter of Chief Powhatan who lived and grew up in a culture in which her needs were met. She was loved, esteemed, and allowed to participate in the life of her village. On the other hand, she was genuinely curious about the life of the English settlers. The bravery of Smith intrigued her, and she became fascinated with him. When she was captured by the English, Christianized, renamed, and...
(The entire section is 457 words.)
Fritz has an established reputation for writing biographies about historical figures. In Worlds of Childhood: The Art and Craft of Writing for Children (1990), she explains her guidelines for selecting persons to write about. Those guidelines include the following: people with dramatic, adventurous lives; a personal interest in the subjects; personalities that require unraveling; lives that are well documented; and people whose lives are often explored in history lessons.
The Double Life of Pocahontas meets these guidelines. The book affords the reader the opportunity to share in Pocahontas’ adventurous life and to understand something about her as a person. Although Pocahontas herself did not leave written records, Fritz carefully documents her information from many sources. The book may be used in classrooms because it also provides a colorful, vivid history of early American settlement, as well as an artfully told story of a Native American girl. This book is written with literary artistry and contributes to a better understanding of Native Americans and how they influenced American history.