Kirkus Reviews QR Code
LOOKING FOR MARCO POLO by Alan Armstrong

LOOKING FOR MARCO POLO

By Alan Armstrong (Author) , Tim Jessell (Illustrator)

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-83321-2
Publisher: Random House

The author of Whittington (2005) profiles another medieval celebrity using a similar scenario—fleshing out historical incidents with imagined but thoroughly researched details and conversations and framing the entire narrative as a tale told to a rapt modern audience. When his anthropologist father goes missing on a Marco Polo—related expedition to the Gobi, 11-year-old Mark and his mother fly to Venice. As they wait for news, Mark visits local landmarks that Marco Polo would have known, absorbs historical background from a group of Venetian rats and a Tibetan mastiff and meets Dr. Hornaday, a friend of his father’s, who regales him with a harrowing account of the 13th-century traveler’s journey. Though laced with facts—what goods traveled over the Silk Road? “Rats, umbrellas, noodles, hissing cockroaches, ideas, walnuts, opium, gunpowder, and a whole lot more,” says Hornaday—Armstrong’s tale-within-a-tale never becomes pedantic. Young readers will likely skip the 25-plus pages of source notes at the end, but they will come away with vivid pictures of Marco Polo’s character and world, plus the satisfaction of experiencing a well-told story. (Fantasy. 11-13)