MARCO POLO by Clint Twist


History's Great Adventurer
Age Range: 11 - 13
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Routine content trumps flashy presentation in this follow-up to similarly packaged but more intellectually rewarding scrapbook-style albums introducing Charles Darwin (2009) and William Shakespeare (2010). This general account of Marco Polo’s travels—deliberately printed in a weak, unevenly inked typeface—opens with the seasoned traveler dictating his memoirs in a Genoese jail. From this, it retraces his itinerary to the court of Kublai Khan, summarizes a few of his commercially minded observations of China and India and describes his missions to what the author calls “present-day Burma” and northern Persia and his eventual return to Venice. Multiple illustrations crowd every spread with a not-always-differentiated mix of Renaissance and newly minted portraits or cityscapes, plus maps from various eras, illegible contemporary documents and showers of gemstones or other filler. Not only does the main text earn a low score for legibility, but many flaps that are meant to be read in a certain sequence are not logically placed and promised “extracts from The Travels of Marco Polo” do not materialize beyond stray quoted phrases. Though certainly a step up from Susan L. Roth’s mannered Marco Polo: His Notebook (1990), next to Russell Freedman’s Adventures of Marco Polo (2006) this isn’t going to leave young readers with more than a superficial impression of Polo’s travelogue or historical significance. (Novelty nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5286-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Templar/Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2011


ChildrenTHE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO by Russell Freedman
by Russell Freedman