ANIMALS MARCO POLO SAW

AN ADVENTURE ON THE SILK ROAD

In the late 13th century, 17-year-old Marco Polo set out for Cathay (China) with his father and uncle. They followed the legendary Silk Road to the palaces of the Kublai Khan, for whom they worked for 17 years before returning to Venice, where Polo later told his story. Markle describes his adventures chronologically for young readers. Most episodes are related on a single page opposite Terrazzini’s attractive, detailed mixed-media illustrations, rendered in dark tones that reflect the dangers of the journey. A separate entry on each page includes information about an animal that Polo might have seen. In spite of the title, as with others in this series the animals are an addendum rather than the focus of the narrative. This attractive introduction to Polo’s famous trip stumbles twice, misnaming the Khan’s summer home and omitting from the map Polo’s travels to India and return home. A fourth volume in the author’s Explorers series, Animals Charles Darwin Saw (ISBN: 978-0-8118-5049-0, illustrated by Zina Saunders), appeared in February 2009 in conjunction with Darwin’s 200th anniversary. (glossary, for more information, index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8118-5051-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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An emotional entry point to a larger, necessary discussion on this complex and difficult subject.

A JOURNEY TOWARD HOPE

The paths of four migrant children from different Central American countries cross as they enter Mexico, and together they continue their journey to the United States.

Though their reasons for undertaking the perilous journey are different, their hopes are not: They all hope for asylum in the U.S. Ten-year-old Alessandra, from Guatemala, hopes to reunite with her mother, who left four years ago. Thirteen-year-old Laura and her 7-year-old brother, Nando, from El Salvador, are going to live with relatives in the U.S. And 14-year-old Rodrigo, from Honduras, will try to join his parents in Nebraska rather than join a local gang. Along the way they encounter danger, hunger, kindness from strangers, and, most importantly, the strength of friendship with one another. Through the four children, the book provides but the barest glimpse into the reasons, hopes, and dreams of the thousands of unaccompanied minors that arrive at the U.S.–Mexico border every year. Artist Guevara has added Central American folk art–influenced details to her illustrations, giving depth to the artwork. These embellishments appear as line drawings superimposed on the watercolor scenes. The backmatter explains the reasons for the book, helping to place it within the larger context of ongoing projects at Baylor University related to the migration crisis in Central America.

An emotional entry point to a larger, necessary discussion on this complex and difficult subject. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64442-008-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Six Foot Press

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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