Looking for Marco Poloby Alan Armstrong, Tim Jessell
Eleven-year-old Mark's anthropologist father has disappeared into the Gobi desert while tracing Marco Polo's ancient route from Venice to China. When Mark and his mother travel to Venice to gather information about Mark's missing dad, Mark meets Doc Hornaday, an old family friend and masterful spinner of historical tales. As Doc describes Marco Polo's… See more details below
Eleven-year-old Mark's anthropologist father has disappeared into the Gobi desert while tracing Marco Polo's ancient route from Venice to China. When Mark and his mother travel to Venice to gather information about Mark's missing dad, Mark meets Doc Hornaday, an old family friend and masterful spinner of historical tales. As Doc describes Marco Polo's adventures—sailing through pirate waters to where the desert begins, following the sunrise and the way of the Greek wind, crossing the broad plains and sand wastes where troves of bandits away—Mark finds himself falling under the spell of the story that has transfixed the world for centuries. Newbery Honor winner Alan Armstrong's third novel, backed by extensive research, brings to life Marco's remarkable journey from Venice to China, where he spent seventeen years in the court of the mighty Kublai Khan.
Newbery Honor author Armstrong (Whittington) weaves the story of Marco Polo into an entertaining contemporary tale. Eleven-year-old Mark's father, a passionate anthropologist, leaves for a six-month research trip to study Mongol herders in the Gobi Desert. When his father disappears, Mark and his mother travel to Venice in the hopes of finding him through the agency he works for. There, Mark suffers an asthma attack and spends time with Doctor Hornaday, an acquaintance of his father's, and his mastiff, Boss, both of whom are Marco Polo scholars and great storytellers ("Stories and strangenesses are like falling feathers—they pass and are gone forever unless you catch them as they go," remarks Hornaday). Like Mark, readers should quickly be drawn into Marco Polo's colorful life and his travels, a story purportedly passed down through generations of people and animals ("Dogs have history just like people," Boss tells Jack. "We know. We remember"). Mark's authentic and emotional letters to his father and Jessell's detailed pencil drawings enhance this rich recreation of the late 13th century. Ages 8—12. (Sept.)
- Random House Children's Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
- Age Range:
- 8 - 12 Years
Meet the Author
ALAN ARMSTRONG went to China to see what Marco Polo might have seen, flying in one day the distance it took Marco three years to go by galley, camel, yak, horse, and foot, nearly at the cost of his life. Inspired by Polo's hunger for exploration and his gift for describing what he met, Armstrong wrote Looking for Marco Polo, his third book for children. His first book, Whittington, was awarded a Newbery Honor in 2006. He lives with his wife, Martha, a painter, in Massachusetts.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
A very exciting storry with lots of stories
My 7-year-old son really enjoyed this book. He loves stories of adventure and action and this had enough to ignite his imagination and growing passion for history. The action, however, doesn't occur with the characters who physically appear in the book. Mark and his mother travel from the United States to Venice, Italy to search for clues of their father who's gone missing somewhere along the Silk Road. Mark's father's work took him to some of the same locations that Marco Polo traveled and so while Mark and his mother seek for clues, we are taken on a parallel journey of Mark's father and Marco Polo. Marco's story is told through eyes of a couple of characters Mark meets during his time in Venice. The first is a doctor and former friend of his father's. The other is the doctor's pet...a big black shaggy dog, just like the Marco had during parts of his travels. Through the stories of these two characters, Mark and the reader are tugged along the broad and widespread tales of Marco Polo - from his beginnings in Venice, though his travels along the Silk Road, and during his time with Kublai Khan in what is now China. The exposure of Marco Polo and Venice through this story is terrific. My son enjoyed the description of the city and every part of Marco Polo's travels including his return home and his departure. While "Looking for Marco Polo" has some nice illustrations, they certainly don't do the scope and scale of the story justice and I've supplemented the readings with pictures of my own from a recent trip to Italy. Mark's friends' descriptions of Marco's adventures combine the "facts" around Marco's book, but also includes numerous embellishments and fiction in which the friends 'imagine' what have happened that fill the gaps between stories. As an adult I've found this a little awkward and find myself clarifying to my son what's real and what's not. For myself, I think of this book as 3 stars. Because my son has enjoyed it so much, I have to bump up the rating considering he's more of the target demographic.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I like the concept well enough, but the execution is a bit dry. It was interesting to learn all of the history surrounding Marco Polo and Venice of that time period, but there wasn't much of a plot to move the story along. I need a little more than a story about a boy, Mark, who doesn't want to be in Venice during Christmas and misses his dad, reluctantly roaming the city to find out more history on Marco Polo. It was certainly a nice history lesson, but as a story overall, it's hard to get through. -Lindsey Miller, www.lindseyslibrary.com