Friday, March 02, 2007
The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman
For some reason I wanted to know about the explorer Marco Polo, so I turned to this new biography by one of the great writers of nonfiction for children and teenagers. It's a beautiful book, shaped like a picture book with richly-colored medieval illustrations. However, it is not a book for children. It's definitely a book for middle school kids on up to adults. It explains very clearly who Marco Polo was (an Italian boy growing up in Venice in the 1200s) and what he is famous for (wild tales of his 24-year-long journey to China and back again). Marco's book called The Description of the World changed how Europeans saw the rest of the world, but Freedman tells us right away that some people think Marco Polo was just a big liar. The book nicely summarizes Marco Polo's voyage and the tales he told (he ended up in prison and his cell mate wrote the book), and tells us again at the end about how some scholars doubt his claims. I thought it gave me the perfect amount of information and helped me understand why Marco Polo's name is still known today. It's probably not a book that your average middle school kid would pick up, but it's well worth reading.