Cover of Encounter by Jane Yolen


This is the story of Columbus’ landing in the Americas, as told by a boy of the Taino people who already lived there. The 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage was coming up, and my Harcourt editor of the time–Bonnie Ingber–suggested such a book was needed. I thought a Taino should write it. After doing some early research, I felt the likelihood of any full-blooded Taino people to be still alive was not great and the story needed to be told. So I said I would do it. The book was the only one in that anniversary year to speak for the Taino people in a picture book edition. It still is. There is an exchange about this book between James C. Juhnke and me in the Spring 1993 issue of The New Advocate (Vol. 6, No. 4). In 1996 Harcourt printed a Spanish edition, Encuentro, translated by the indefatigable Alma Flor Ada. In 2000 a French edition was published under the imprint Carre Blanc, Les 400 Coups.

Material for Teachers:

What reviewers have said:

  • “A poignant account of Columbus’s landfall in the Americas, from a Taino boy’s point of view. … Shannon’s dark, richly colored paintings brilliantly capture the story’s emotion and the sense of worlds colliding; Europeans are rendered with a rugged realism that strongly recalls the work of N.C. Wyeth, and the Native Americans look like polished wooden figurines– with the border between these two realities shifting and changing.” — Kirkus
  • “Yolen tells an original, thought-provoking tale that rises above the many Columbus books available, and David Shannon’s illustrations, reminiscent of N. C. Wyeth’s work, add grandeur to this poignant tale.” — Horn Book
  • “Superlative storytelling.” — Publisher’s Weekly
  • “Among the most powerful and disturbing publications of the Columbus Quincentennial. . . pioneering brilliance” of the book, the critic called Yolen’s greatest achievement “the reversal of perspective. This book forces us to confront what a disaster it was for the Taino people to be discovered and destroyed by Europeans. Readers young and old will fervently wish never to be encountered by such ‘strangers from the sky.’”—-New Advocate
  • “While the portrayal of Columbus as evil may strike traditionalists as heresy, he did hunger for gold, abduct native people, and ultimately (though unintentionally), destroy the Taino. This book effectively presents their point of view.”–Booklist

All editions are available.