Monday, January 22, 2007
The Adventures of Marco Polo
Freedman, Russell. 2006. THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 043952394X [Suggested Grade Levels 4-9]
With over 150 versions of Marco Polo’s classic book THE DESCRIPTION OF THE WORLD, there is no wonder that many consider him to be a fraud and a charlatan. Freedman tackles the mystery of whether or not Marco Polo really did reach China to see the marvelous wonders he reports. He also debunks the myths that Polo brought pasta, ice cream, printing, gunpowder, and the compass back to Italy. In a carefully researched and written biography, Freedman attempts to report what can be proven about Polo and explain what may or may not be true. He quotes liberally from Polo’s own book and effortlessly blends it into an interesting tale of one of the world’s first great explorers. As usual, Freedman has done a superb job of research and writing. Beginning with Polo’s boyhood in Italy, Freedman traces his first journeys to the East. Perhaps most interesting are the stories of the time spent with Kubla Khan. And whether it is all true or an elaborate ancient fabrication, the story remains a fascinating bit of history.
Ibatoulline’s illustrations are blended with archival art from medieval manuscripts and are so well done it is sometimes difficult to determine which are historical and which are done by Ibatoulline. The books itself is printed on paper reminiscent of parchment which gives it a richness unlike most children’s nonfiction books.
Use as an introduction to China or to a unit on explorers.
Other books about Marco Polo or China:
Cotterel, Arthur, et al. ANCIENT CHINA (EYEWITNESS BOOKS). ISBN 0789458667
Herbert, Janis. MARCO POLO FOR KIDS: HIS MARVELOUS JOURNEY TO CHINA 21 ACTIVITIES. ISBN 1556523777
Scieszka, John. MARCO? POLO! (THE TIME WARP TRIO #16). ISBN 0670061042
By Janet Hilbun