Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki

"This Jamestown colony is a hard place to live. Even Mama, who never complains, is weary now, it seems. Since Captain Smith left, we have new leaders. They are Gabriel Archer and George Percy and John Ratcliffe and some others."
Elizabeth Barker[2]

The Starving Time: Elizabeth's Diary, Book Two is the second book about Elizabeth Barker in the My America series. The book was written by Patricia Hermes and was published in May 2001. It was reissued a year later with a new cover design. The book was followed by Season of Promise in November 2002.

The Jamestown colony struggles through the long winter of 1609, now known as the Starving Time.


"For Madeline Victoria Hermes and Matthew Logan Hermes
Welcome to this new land!

Book description[]

"November 1
We have a sweet, little house that Papa and I built.... It is different from England. But it feels almost like a real home now.
Tonight, at twilight, Papa laid a fire on our hearth. Mama was nursing baby Abigail. We talked about Caleb. Just think, Papa said, come spring, Caleb will be here.
That makes me happy. For it will be a real home when Caleb comes.
In Elizabeth Barker's second diary, the Jamestown colony continues to suffer. There is little food, and disease has gripped the settlers, shrinking their numbers each day. Lizzie remains brave, clinging to the hope that soon her brother Caleb will arrive.

"Jamestown, Virginia, 1609
Elizabeth's story continues...

In Book One, Elizabeth and her family arrive in the New World, where they face harsh conditions.
Now, the Jamestown Colony is in grave trouble. But Lizzie clings to the hope that better days lie ahead.


In the Jamestown colony, Elizabeth Barker begins her second diary, after sending her first one with her best friend, Jessie Bolton. Jessie will deliver it to Elizabeth's twin, Caleb Barker, once she arrives in England. In the meantime, Elizabeth misses having a friend and starts looking for possible candidates. She becomes friendly with an unexpected person, Mary Dobson. Although Mary is three years older than Elizabeth, they quickly become close by expressing their dreams to one another.

The citizens of Jamestown begin to worry, when food becomes scarce during the harsh winter. After a week of little to no food, Elizabeth's father decides to venture into the forest to search for some. Elizabeth accompanies him and they return with a large amount of food. The following day, they awake to find a lot of their food stolen. Elizabeth suspects the Bridger family, but Mr. Barker resolves to share their food next time.

In December, disease and discontent spread throughout the colony. The men argue among themselves and a few, lead by Mr. Bridger, leave to form their own settlement. Meanwhile, the women, including Elizabeth's mother, tend to the growing number of sick people. Elizabeth, her mother, and littler sister Abigail fall ill, but recover just enough to celebrate Christmas.

Two months later, Elizabeth travels outside the fort to seek help from her friend, Pocahontas. Elizabeth grows sicker and becomes lost, while looking for the Indian village. Two kind Indians find and guide her back to Jamestown. After a few days, Elizabeth discovers her ill mother in the colony's sick shed. She takes care of her mother, until she passes away in late March. That summer, a ship arrives with Caleb and new hope.

Historical Note[]

Jamestown was colonized in 1607. John Smith took over leadership of the colony, but returned to England after becoming injured. The following winter, the colonists faced disease and starvation which resulted in around sixty people surviving to see spring. There was new hope when Lord de La Warre arrived with new supplies and people. Jamestown became healthy and strong, and was eventually became the first capital of Virginia. Five pictures are included in the section to depict the events discussed.


Main article: List of characters in Elizabeth's Diaries
  • Elizabeth Barker is a colonist in Jamestown, Virginia. She experiences several hardships during the tough winter that test her strength and resolve.
  • Mary Dobson, Elizabeth's new friend, after Jessie Bolton travels back to England. They meet at their secret place near the well to discuss their hopes and dreams.


Main article: Patricia Hermes

Patricia Hermes was an American children's and young adult author. She wrote nearly fifty books over her lifetime. Hermes is the author of six books in the My America series, including the three books in Elizabeth's Diaries, Our Strange New Land, The Starving Time, and Season of Promise. In the "About the Author" section, Hermes said "As the mother of five children, her writing enables her to continue to heed the plea she heard so frequently from those children: Tell me a story."

Shared continuity[]

The Starving Time was preceded by Our Strange New Land in 2000. The second book directly follows the narrative established in Our Strange New Land. The Starving Time was followed by a sequel, titled Season of Promise, in 2002. It is the third and final book to feature Elizabeth.



"The author wishes to thank the patient and ever-helpful research librarians and children's librarians in Fairfield, Connecticut"


  • The portrait on the cover was illustrated by Glenn Harrington.[4]


See also[]

External links[]