Raleigh’s Page is the riveting story of Andrew, a young boy sent to be a page to his father’s old friend Walter Raleigh. Yeah, that Walter Raleigh - the one given to throwing his pearl studded cloaks on puddles for Queen Elizabeth of England to walk on. Pretty cool, no? I was always fascinated by that story but didn't really know much about him other than the usual middle school page in a history book.
Andrew goes to live in Raleigh's estate along with two other boys who are already serving as pages to him. He is fascinated by all the newness but misses his family. One of the boys is cruel but the other is a good friend to him. Andrew, the farmer's son, makes a great friend in the French gardener and becomes his apprentice. Together they learn of strange plants from other lands and prepare for the New World.
Raleigh himself is an interesting character in this book. I was fascinated by his excitement and verve. Walter Raleigh is a high energy, intelligent and purposeful man in this book. His way of teaching the children in his care is also fascinating. He plans secret trials that not only test the boys' writing, business acumen, and other abilities, but he tests the strength of their character, too. Interesting.
Andrew, being a solid farm boy with good values and a strong character, shines in this story. He's a normal boy with hopes and dreams and fears, yet he consistently rises to any occasion, whether it be spying, carrying secret documents or venturing out to the New World. He meets the mysterious Dr. Dee, the Queen's own astrologer, among other characters that populate this book.
Ah yes, Raleigh is planning a big trip to the colony of Virginia – the first expedition to Roanoke, and Andrew is determined to go along. The story gets even more interesting once Raleigh's ship actually gets to Virginia. Alan Armstrong writes a great tale full of intrigue, adventure, compassion and understanding.
Raleigh's Page is one heck of a great read. The marvelous illustrations by Tim Jessell give depth to the story and a flavor for the time period in which it is set. One of my favorite illustrations is one of Walter Raleigh almost bursting with excitement.