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THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO by Russell Freedman Kirkus Star


by Russell Freedman & illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-439-52394-X
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

A gloriously designed biography of Marco Polo brings to young readers some of the excitement his Description of the World must have offered to contemporary readers upon its publication at the turn of the 14th century. The graceful text quotes from Polo’s account as it describes his travels into a land that, unfortunately, is likely as little known to the average American reader as it was to medieval Europeans. The passages through mountains and deserts receive as vivid a treatment as does the court of Kublai Khan, whose intellectual curiosity and religious tolerance stand as his shining achievements. Freedman admits his readers into the scholarly debate as to the veracity of Polo’s account, both by admitting doubt where appropriate into the main narrative and in a more extensive concluding discussion. Ibatoulline exhibits chameleon-like adaptability with his chapter-introducing illustrations, varying style from Western to Eastern to suit the subject. Full-color reproductions of archival material, parchment-toned pages and two perfectly placed maps round out this spectacular offering. A bibliographical essay, detailed notes on the archival illustrations and an index comprise the exemplary backmatter. Simply splendid. (Biography. 9-12)