Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Journey into Mohawk Country

Journey into Mohawk Country is a collaboration across centuries. The text is taken directly from Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert's journals. Van den Bogaert was a 23 year old Dutch surgeon who was tasked with making new trading relationships for the Dutch in what would become New York state during the 17th century. In the winter of 1634, he and two companions ventured into Iroquois country from Fort Orange (now Albany), encountering many interesting people and scenes. Luckily for posterity, he kept a journal, one of the few primary sources that gives a detailed look into the times and people of that era.

The present-day artist who here illustrated van den Bogaert's words was George O'Connor, an author, illustrator, and cartoonist who has since gone on to publish a popular series of graphic novels based on the Olympian gods. He speaks extensively about his work on this book in an interview on the Leonard Lopate Show. This New York Times feature article offers some great visual insights into the creation of the book.

Reviews of the book have been largely positive. First Panel reviewer Joe found the book "interesting, informative, and charming." The Daily Cross Hatch's Sean Carroll wrote that this book "was clearly a labor of love" and "an original and unusual comic" but called attention to an uneasy dynamic between realism and cartoon art. Beth Hewitt offered her opinion, "As someone with a passionate fondness for reading about colonial American economic history, I knew I would love [the book]," but she wondered if others would as well. Rocco Staino of New York State United Teachers highlighted this book in particular for use with middle grades students.

An excerpt and more reviews are available from the book's publisher First Second.

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