A storm rocks the boat carrying Puritans to America. But young Susannah Hutchins huddles into the safety of her mother's arms.
The family expects to find freedom of religion in this new land. What they find instead, is a classic religious battle between grace and law. The reader feels the tension early on in the pages of this picture book. It is communicated through Micahel Dooling's muted photo-realistic paintings and Jeannine Atkins skillful use of symbolism.
As everyone gathered, the minister said, "The Lord sends storms to punish the wicked among us."
"This minister speaks too much of storms," Mother said. "In the New World we hope to spend more time giving thanks for the blessings of blue skies. We are not going there to be frightened again."
As the story emerges we discover that Susannah's mother is a strong Christian woman who uses her gifts of midwifery, encouragement, and teaching in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
But the puritanical community is not ready for a strong, confident woman who experiences God as a loving Being. And so the conflict ensues. Young Susannah loses the safety of her mother's arms.
Read the book to discover what happens. There is much more than can be contained in a 32 page picture book, of course. An Afterword provides additonal info. And you can read more here.
Anne Hutchinson's Way is a picture book for all ages. It does just what I love - brings a little known piece of history into the light where contemporary readers can experience its relevance.
And it is relevant!
It seems I have a vague recollection of Anne Hutchinson from my elementary history classes. But mostly, I've forgotten about her. Thankfully, Jeannine Atkins brought this strong confident role model to my attention.