by Janice Weaver Author

(From Amazon): History has not been kind to Henry Hudson. He's been dismissed as a short-tempered man who played favorites with his crew and had an unstoppable ambition and tenacity. Although he gave his name to a mighty river, an important strait, and a huge bay, today he is remembered more for the mutiny that took his life. The grandson of a trader, Hudson sailed under both British and Dutch flags, looking for a northern route to China. Although none of his voyages led to the discovery of a northwest passage, he did explore what is now Hudson's Bay and what is now New York City.Whatever his personal shortcomings, to sail through dangerous, ice-filled waters with only a small crew in a rickety old boat, he must have been someone of rare courage and vision. In Hudson, Janice Weaver has created a compelling portrait of a man who should be remembered not for his tragic end, but for the way he advanced our understanding of the world.

Additional Details

Resource Type
Print Status
In Print
Suggested Grades
1st - 4th
Historical Setting
1570 - 1618
Tundra Books


  • 1 The Early Years
  • 2 On the Hopewell
  • 3 North Again
  • 4 The Half Moon
  • 5 To the New World
  • 6 Mutiny!
  • 7 After Hudson

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Factual, but unexciting biography

Reviewed by Parent/Teacher

Hudson is a biography of explorer Henry Hudson. It has 7 short chapters, as well as some additional information including a description of the three main places named for Hudson and an index. There is a lovely map at the beginning of the book showing the routes of Hudson’s four journeys of exploration. It has quite a few pictures, some reproductions of older artwork, some images of original documents, and some original illustrations for the book.

The book begins by explaining that little is known of Hudson before his first voyage for the Muscovy company, and give a little background to place him in historical context. The book then goes on to describe his four journeys. The first two searching for a North-EAST passage, then a voyage for the Dutch to what is now New York City and the last to Hudson’s Bay. The text contains multiple extra text boxes, adding interesting information that isn’t included in the main text. I find this modern style can make narrating more difficult, but the boxes did add interesting information.

The book doesn’t romanticize his life, nor does it add dialogue. Somehow, despite the exciting adventures described, the book doesn’t seem particularly exciting. As an example, here is part of the paragraph that describes Hudson and his men meeting the Natives, “One morning, Robert Juet led a party of men ashore to ‘drive the savages from their houses and [rob them], as they would have done to us.’ That fear seemed justified when, several weeks later, John Colman and four others were attacked by a group of Natives as they scouted a narrow river. Colman was shot through the throat by an arrow and died; the other men barely escaped with their lives.”

As a modern book, it deals much more sensitively with Native peoples than many books. There is a full page that discusses the fear that explorers felt and their negative behaviour. It also describes positive interactions that Hudson had with Native people, and other positive interactions between other explorers and Natives. It ends by discussing how valuable Natives were to the fur trade.

The mutiny leading to Hudson being set adrift is written in such a way that it isn’t emotionally moving, despite the tragic ending. The book then describes the awful condition of the mutineers when they arrived home, and their trial. The book concludes by discussing how Hudson’s journey led to further exploration.

I had my 11 year-old read it to help me with my review. He said it taught him lots about Henry Hudson because he didn’t know much about him before reading it. He is often emotionally moved by his school books, but agreed that this one wouldn’t make him cry! I was searching for a Canadian biography to use as a Canadian substitution for AmblesideOnline Year 1. I am still on the fence about this one. If I end up using it with my daughter for grade 1 next year, I will add an additional review describing how it worked out.

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