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Lost City: The Discovery of Macchu Picchu

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Caldecott Honor-winner Ted Lewin takes readers on a thrilling journey to the wilds of Peru in this story of Hiram Bingham, who, in 1911, carved a treacherous path through snake-filled jungles and across perilous mountains in search of Vilcapampa, the lost city of the Incas. Guided the last steps by a young Quechua boy, however, he discovered not the rumored lost city, but the ruins of Machu Picchu, a city totally unknown to the outside world, and one of the wonders of the world....

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Caldecott Honor-winner Ted Lewin takes readers on a thrilling journey to the wilds of Peru in this story of Hiram Bingham, who, in 1911, carved a treacherous path through snake-filled jungles and across perilous mountains in search of Vilcapampa, the lost city of the Incas. Guided the last steps by a young Quechua boy, however, he discovered not the rumored lost city, but the ruins of Machu Picchu, a city totally unknown to the outside world, and one of the wonders of the world.

In 1911, Yale professor Hiram Bingham discovers a lost Incan city with the help of a young Peruvian boy.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Ted Lewin captures the exhilaration that attended Bingham's discovery by splitting the narrative viewpoint between the professor and the little Quechua boy who was his guide. Both encountered new worlds. Lewin drew for inspiration on Bingham's journal and on what he saw during his own trip to Peru nearly a century later. The result could put him in the running for the Caldecott Medal. — Elizabeth Ward
Publishers Weekly
With lush and detailed watercolors, Lewin guides readers high into the almost otherworldly mountains of Peru. In retracing the steps of Hiram Bingham, who in 1911 searched for the lost city of Vilcapampa and discovered the 500-year-old Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, he balances a compelling visual chronicle with sure storytelling. The narrative alternates between Bingham's treacherous trail into the dense, snake-infested jungle and the premonitions of a Quechua boy who has dreamed of "a tall stranger carrying a small black box" (the box is Bingham's camera). The professor's quest begins 60 miles south in Cusco, where a gorgeous, sun-dappled ancient wall may excite readers' interest in archeology: "Right here was the most beautiful stonework he had ever seen-huge stones cut so perfectly that not even a razor blade could be slipped between them. The Inca had no iron tools to carve them, no wheel or draft animals to move them.... How had the Inca built them!" A sense of intrigue permeates another scene in a dark cantina, where Bingham confers with locals, their faces unseen. Wearing an Indiana Jones-style fedora, Bingham hunches over intently, his face half-shadowed in the bright sun. A perilous trek and a fortuitous meeting with the boy in the jungle lead Bingham to the ruins, the significance of which are explained in a helpful afterword. A rewarding journey. Ages 5-9. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Bound by the symbolic opening endpapers of deep jungle followed by the closing well-knit building stones of the Lost City, Lewin takes readers on the trail that Yale professor Hiram Bingham followed into Peru. Bingham had heard of the lost city of the Inca, Vilcapampa, had seen other walled structures constructed by the famed Incan builders, and was determined to discover this city. So, by asking if there were any ruins nearby, he finally secured information about a city straight up through jungles and into the cloud-covered mountains. Lewin's detailed and dramatic watercolors depict Bingham crawling over a log bridge, hacking his way through jungle, and for child reader interest, a boy who watches from above as the party make its way upward. Lewin's pictures reveal to readers the first structures, the steps emerging from bamboo thickets and jungle vines, to an ending aerial view of the city structure once the vines were removed years later. It's a fine trip for a budding scientist and explorer to make in Bingham's company and a book that evokes wonder about other "lost cities" or unexplored places. Lewin's author's note tells how he found the boy, an actual character from Bingham's journal, and how he prepared for making his pictures accurate. For a slightly older audience or readers who want even more facts about this marvelous Peruvian treasure, Machu Picchu, by Elizabeth Mann (Mikaya, 2000), is a fine straightforward informational book that answers even more of the questions children may have about this civilization and additionally includes more information about Hiram Bingham. 2003, Philomel,
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-In 1911, Hiram Bingham and a team of archaeologists went in search of Vilcapampa, the legendary lost city of the Inca. In this picture-book account of that expedition, Lewin relates Bingham's journey from Cusco to the jungles of Peru and from there, led by a local child, to mountaintop ruins. The site wasn't Vilcapampa, but rather an isolated, impenetrable ancient city of temples, dwellings, plazas, and terraces connected by steep staircases. Distinguished double-page watercolor paintings capture the grandeur of the location, the monumental solidity of the Inca stonework, and the surrounding jungle. The final pages continue the story with information on the work involved in preparing the ruins for excavation and some initial findings and include a useful pronunciation guide to Spanish and Quechua words. Follow this title with Elizabeth Mann's Machu Picchu (Mikaya, 2000) for background on the people who built this city, and to learn what later excavations yielded.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Magnificent watercolor landscapes and mystical hooey form the high and low points, respectively, of this tale of archaeologist Hiram Bingham's discovery of the Incan city of Machu Picchu in 1911. Drawing heavily, according to an author's note and bibliography, on Bingham's own accounts of the expedition, Lewin creates in Bingham a protagonist consumed by wonder and driven by determination to discover a rumored lost Incan city. As he pushes further and further into the Andes, the full-bleed illustrations open up a glorious world of rushing rivers and jungled mountains, until he uncovers, with the aid of the indigenous farmers, Machu Picchu itself. Unfortunately, the narrative relies on invented dialogue and, even worse, a fictional character, based on a boy mentioned in Bingham's accounts, who foresees Bingham's arrival in a dream. These sequences stretch credulity past the breaking point and beg the question, why doesn't the author trust the spirit of discovery enough to allow it to carry readers along? The story ends abruptly, with the discovery of the lost city; a further note describes the subsequent excavation. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399233029
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 259,087
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD670L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.66 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 1, 2013

    The watercolor double spread illustrations are stunning! They po

    The watercolor double spread illustrations are stunning! They portray the grandeur of the Andes Mountain peaks, deep valleys, lush jungle plants and jungle scenery and the perfection of the remaining walls of temple ruins better than any words could do. The text, just the right length for a picture book, tells the story from a young boy's point of view.
    Children would like the story, but armchair travelers of any age would be delighted by the pictures.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Magnificent Artwork Introduces Incredible Tale of Discovery

    Dominated by beautiful artwork, this picture book traces Hiram Bingham's trek from Cuzco to his discovery of Machu Picchu - the so-called Lost City of the Incas. A few of the key characters involved in this specific segment of Bingham's 1911 are interspersed into the short book, but the boy whose family was living and farming on Machu Picchu and led Bingham to the ruins, creates a dreamlike quality to the tale. Lewins' watercolors fill the entire pages and explode with color, shading, details and subtlety. The story is written in language appropriate for readers in grades 1-3, and works equally wonderfully when read by an adult.

    Machu Picchu was named one of the NEW seven wonders of the world in 2007 and Bingham's "discovery" of Machu Picchu celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. My 7-year-old stared at the images in Lewin's book in awe, and could relate to the boy who leads Bingham to the incredible stonework ruins that straddle two magnificent peaks of the might Andes. This is a terrific introduction to a legendary story of a legendary people.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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