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KUBLA KHAN by Kathleen Krull Kirkus Star


The Emperor of Everything

by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Robert Byrd

Age Range: 5 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-01114-8
Publisher: Viking

The Emperor of Everything, indeed! Droll writing and detailed, almost encyclopedic, pen-and-watercolor illustrations make a perfect marriage for young readers trying to apprehend the totality of Kubla Khan’s personality, history and accomplishments. The vivid description of Kubla’s life as the grandson of Genghis Khan, the son of a watchful, hovering, ambitious mother, the husband of four wives and “countless” concubines and the father of 100 children is one that will impress even the most disaffected modern child. Krull's narration is typically earthy: "All the accounts of the time described Kubla's mother as a woman nobody messed with." The beauty of this story is in the details: thirsty riders cutting into the skin of their ponies to drink a little blood; Kubla sitting with his tame lion at his feet, on a throne covered with the skins of white horses; the postal system that would put the Pony Express to shame. On every spread, Byrd's illustrations invite readers to slow down and pore over every inch. This account is like Kubla Khan himself—amazing. (author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-12)