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TRAVELING MAN by James Rumford Kirkus Star


The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354

by James Rumford & illustrated by James Rumford

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-618-08366-9
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

“Traveling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Ibn Battuta should know: this North African scholar traveled from Gibraltar to Beijing, suffering many a severe reversal of fortune and covering an astonishing 75,000 miles, before settling down as an old man to dictate his adventures. Rumford (Island-Below-the-Star, 1998, etc.), no stranger to faraway places himself, presents a précis of those adventures in a radically abbreviated but tantalizing adaptation of Ibn Battuta’s travelogue, lines of which follow a wandering road that threads its way past phrases and city names rendered in sinuous Arabic calligraphy (translated nearby or at the end) and unpretentious watercolors of the journeyer at rest or passing through wide landscapes. “Suddenly I was hit by an arrow. Even though I was wounded, I helped my companions fight off the rebels, and we continued on to Delhi. By the time we reached the sultan’s palace, my wound had healed . . . ” Rumford closes with a map, a source note, and a list of names and places. It’s an awe-inspiring tale, evocatively presented, and perfect for armchair travelers. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-12)