Published in 1958
by Thomas Y. Crowell Company
New York, NY
Perhaps students of California history are familiar with the name Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, but having spent my school years on the east coast, I was not.
So who exactly was Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and why did Maud Hart Lovelace write a book about him?
What Cabrillo Found by Maud Hart Lovelace is a little known children's book about Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer who is most noted for his exploration of the west coast of North America during the early 1540s.
Cabrillo lived during a time of great exploration. All around him men sailed off in search of new lands to conquer in the name of their King or Queen. And sometimes in the name of "Christianity" -- though not always with a true desire of spreading the gospel, but rather to gain fame and wealth. Cabrillo was an exception to the latter. He was a man of courage and kindness, who explored, gave names to new lands in honor of the King of Spain, but remained honorable to the natives he encountered along the way. His goal was not to get rich, but to explore the unknown and along the way he made some incredible discoveries that have impacted the world as we know it.
I believe for this reason (and also simply because Mrs. Lovelace spent her later years living in California and called it home) she felt it was vital that Cabrillo's story be remembered and thus she wrote this little book.
The only problem with What Cabrillo Found is that Maud Hart Lovelace had very little research material on which to base her book. There is hardly anything on record about Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in spite of his importance to North American history. There isn't even a known portraiture or etching of his likeness! Because of this, What Cabrillo Found is generally considered historical fiction, but I think it could be argued that this book could also be categorized as non-fiction and biographical in nature simply for the fact it was written from all the information about Cabrillo that was available at the time.
Still, What Cabrillo Found was an interesting read. Intended for children it reads simply and quickly. It's not one of Mrs. Lovelace's best works, but it was a worthwhile read and one I'd recommend to anyone curious to learn more about this explorer or those who, like me, are curious to read all of Mrs. Lovelace's works.
Overall I am glad I took some time to read this book as it has expanded my interest in North American history.
(Note to those looking for a copy of this book to read: I would suggest checking with your library and library's Inter-Library Loan program first. I found my copy online and paid just a few dollars for a decent hardback minus the dust-jacket. There are still a number of copies available online, but prices vary from as little as $10 to as much as $100.)