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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In August of 1492, explorer Christopher Columbus plans to discover a westward route to Asia. He chooses young Pedro de Salcedo to be a cabin boy on the Santa María since Pedro can read and write. Pedro chronicles the long days that follow on their six-month voyage. He is also responsible for leading the men in morning prayers and always asks God for aid on the voyage.

A broken rudder on the Pinta waylays the voyage for several days in the Canary Islands before the ship enters uncharted seas. The sailors grow restless when, after many days, land is nowhere to be found. Columbus tries to calm the anxious men by promising a large reward to the first one who spots land. Several false alarms only make the crew more upset.

While the journey is hard, Pedro enjoys friendship with some of the crewmembers. One even lets Pedro steer the ship some nights when no one is looking so the man can take catnaps. Each day, the men grow more insistent about turning around for home.

Finally, Columbus spots land in the distance, and eventually they set foot on dry ground. They meet friendly natives who think the men are angels from God, and Columbus allows them to believe it. As the voyage continues around the coast of San Salvador, Columbus drives his crew too hard, even as he names every piece of land.

When Columbus sees the natives wearing gold jewelry imprinted with Japanese writing, he’s sure they must be near Japan. Pedro writes of his discomfort at the barely-clothed natives, their worship of the sailors and especially Columbus’ decision to take some of the natives back to Spain as servants.

One day in late November, the Pinta disappears. Columbus continues to lead the remaining two ships to various islands. The natives seem less and less friendly, and Columbus arrogantly demonstrates his crossbow to inspire fear.

On Christmas night, many crewmembers drink wine to celebrate and are lulled to sleep. Pedro steers the ship for a sleeping crewman but crashes into a reef. The Santa María sinks, and the crew and captives are forced to crowd onto the Niña. Everyone is angry with Pedro.

A distraught Columbus is prepared to return home, until a native chief gives him directions to a place where abundant gold may be found. The captain says this stroke of luck was the predestined will of God. He decides to leave 39 men in a settlement near the wrecked ship and pursue the promised wealth.

In January, natives direct Columbus to the lost Pinta. Its captain, Martín Alonso, is apologetic, but Columbus is certain the man is trying to beat him back to Spain to steal his impending power and fame. After finding gold, the two badly leaking ships leave supplies at the settlement and head back to Spain.

Horrible storms rock the ships, and the Pinta is nowhere to be found. Fearing they may sink, or that Alonso and the Pinta may beat them back to Spain, Columbus puts letters detailing his conquests in a sealed barrel and throws them in the sea. The barrel includes Pedro’s journal.

Pedro writes he believes God has forgotten them, and he asks the reader of his journal to tell God where he is. An endnote indicates that Pedro did make it home safely and never went to sea again.

Christian Beliefs

Pedro leads the crew in morning prayers each day and reminds them to pray for protection on the voyage. Whenever Columbus is concerned about the trip, the explorer says the Rosary with a fury, as though his orders in prayer are to be carried out at once.

When the ship reaches land, Columbus drops to his knees in a prayer of thanksgiving. Pedro says that on each new island, Columbus names the places, similar to Adam naming the animals in the Bible.

Amid horrible storms, Pedro writes that God has forgotten them. He hopes that his words, sealed with Columbus’ letters, will make it home. He asks whoever should find them to tell God where he is.

Other Belief Systems

The men see a falling star and believe it’s a bad omen. Columbus then tells many stories about meteorites he’s seen during his explorations and how they have brought blessing and good fortune.

Authority Roles

Columbus is an arrogant leader, whom some crewmen believe to be mad. He frequently lies or omits information to make himself and his decisions seem more acceptable. He hungers for power, wealth and fame with little concern for the well-being of others. Pedro often thinks of his mother when he’s in desperate situations. He shudders at how she would respond to some of Columbus’ immoral actions, such as kidnapping natives.





Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12


Pam Conrad






Record Label



Caroline House, an imprint of Boyd Mills Press Inc.


On Video

Year Published





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