Trailblazers: Poems of Exploration


Vast seas. Infinite outer space. Endless prairies. Cloud-skimming peaks.

The wide, open world.

Intrepid explorers cannot ignore the call to adventure, and glory, and knowledge, and freedom. The call to explore.

From the Vikings to Lewis and Clark to Sally Ride, discover the spirit of exploration in sixty-two fascinating, vibrant, moving poems.

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Vast seas. Infinite outer space. Endless prairies. Cloud-skimming peaks.

The wide, open world.

Intrepid explorers cannot ignore the call to adventure, and glory, and knowledge, and freedom. The call to explore.

From the Vikings to Lewis and Clark to Sally Ride, discover the spirit of exploration in sixty-two fascinating, vibrant, moving poems.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Laura Ruttig
This unusual collection of poems celebrates explorers both from the past and the present. The book begins with a tale of Adam and Eve and continues through time from Marco Polo up to John Glenn and Sally Ride. The quality of the poems is a bit uneven, as some are exceptional while others are just painful to read. Each one is generally educational, as they are usually factually correct. However, the point-of-view is sometimes a bit disturbing, as in the case of the Vikings who are described as pillaging more than exploring, even as they are portrayed sympathetically as "better workers / when they're roused / to be berserkers" (20). The author also includes many lesser-known explorers, such as Mary Ann Parker, Ida Pfeiffer, and Richard Spruce to name a few. The inclusion of a large number of female explorers is particularly refreshing, and some of the poems—particularly those focusing on more modern topics such as space and deep-sea exploration—have a very nice sound.
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
What a creative idea! Bobbi Katz celebrates the remarkable exploits of explorers from the earliest of times to current day. Whether conqueror, pirate, pilgrim, scientist, adventurer, or teacher, each of these notable people contributes in some way to our knowledge of the earth, what is beyond the atmosphere, and what lies deep within the ocean. From Alexander the Great, to Ernest Shackleton and Mae Jemison, to the lesser known Jeanne Baret (the first known women to sail around the world in 1768) or Arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen, Katz chronicles in rhyme and free verse the fears, hardships, excitement, awe, and adventure of these intrepid men and women. She often incorporates her subjects' own words, garnered from diaries and journals, into her poems. Appended is a thumbnail biography (in alphabetical order) of each explorer and an author's note helps set the political climate and motivation behind some of the undertakings. Used in conjunction with a class unit on explorers, this will be an excellent companion piece.
School Library Journal

Gr 3-8
Researching both primary and secondary sources, Katz has created a unique volume that explores the lives of more than 120 explorers, from ancient times to the present. Entries include Genghis Khan, whose commanders, Jebe and Subedi, tell the story in two voices of the conquering of Russia ("Our horses and our cavalry/will be our keys/to victory!"), and the Vikings (" . . . Vikings become/better workers/when they're roused/to be berserkers."). The book also introduces Egeria, a "remarkable nun" who kept a diary of her pilgrimage to Egypt and the Holy Land circa 390, and Hanno, who led an expedition of 60 ships in 530 B.C. to explore the west coast of Africa and " . . . to build new towns,/where Carthage then could trade." Space heroes, educators, and scientists are among the modern explorers. Katz challenges readers to consider not only the courage of these individuals, but also to broaden their horizons in terms of the definition of exploration and the motivations behind it. The entry for Mae Jemison reads, " . . . Now a scientist in outer space,/I've proved my parents true./"There's no one who you cannot be.'/"There's nothing you cannot do.'" All the selections encourage reading aloud, especially the poems for two voices. The few black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout are small and iconic. Although the book has limited visual appeal, the poems are creative and present a new perspective on an old subject. Teachers will find many cross-curricular connections.
—Lee BockCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688165338
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/27/2007
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Bobbi Katz is a poet, writer, and activist, and her poetry is widely anthologized. Her collection of poems about American history, We the People, was named an ALA Booklist Top Ten Poetry Pick. She is the author of several other books of poetry, including Once Around the Sun, illustrated by LeUyen Pham; Pocket Poems, illustrated by Marylin Hafner; and A Rumpus of Rhymes, illustrated by Susan Estelle Kwas. She lives in New York City and Port Ewen, New York.

Carin Berger is an award-winning designer and illustrator. Her cut-paper collages are made using ephemera, such as catalogues, old books, receipts, letters, and ticket stubs. In a starred review, Kirkus said of her Forever Friends, "Sophisticated, sensitive, and accessible, this picture book will offer new insights and pleasures with each season." The Little Yellow Leaf was a 2008 New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books selection, and in a starred review, Publishers Weekly called her A Perfect Day "lovely." She is also the illustrator of the acclaimed Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, both by Jack Prelutsky, among other books. She lives with her family in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt


Poems of Exploration
By Bobbi Katz

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Bobbi Katz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780688165345

Queen Hatshepsut

History's first great woman ruler, although not Egypt's first woman head of state, was the widow of Pharaoh Thutmose II. She ruled for over twenty years and built a magnificent temple near Thebes.

Queen Hatshepsut: Deir al-Bahri, Egypt, 1493 BC

Right here, my master builder,
you shall erect a colonnade
to honor my brave sailors
for the voyage they have made.
For did they not at my command
sail off to Punt, that distant land?
And did they not return with trees
whose incense Egypt's gods will please?
And being pleased by scent of myrrh,
will not the gods my death defer?
Show these men with trees in hand
so those to come will understand
men faced the terrors of the sea,
to please the gods . . .
and so please me.


Excerpted from Trailblazers by Bobbi Katz Copyright © 2007 by Bobbi Katz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to thisweb site.

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Table of Contents

The First Explorers   Adam and Eve     1
Preface     3
Orders   Queen Hatshepsut (1493 BC)     4
My Story   Hanno of Carthage (530 BC)     5
Returning Home   Alexander the Great (325 BC)     8
A Letter to Galicia   Egeria (390)     10
Summer Sport   Vikings (790)     12
A Tale of Two Cities   Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela (1157)     14
The Plan of the Mongol Commanders   Genghis Khan (1223)     17
Can It Be So?   Marco Polo (1298)     18
From The Rihla of Ibn Battuta   Ibn Battuta (1354)     19
At the Emperor's Court   Zheng He (1432)     22
Remembering Prince Henry   Henry the Navigator (1460)     24
A Letter to Cristobal Columbus   Christopher Columbus (1474)     26
King Ferdinand's Remarks   Christopher Columbus (1490)     27
What Manner of Men Are These?   Vasco da Gama (1502)     29
With Leoncico at My Golden Sea   Vasco Nunez de Balboa (1513)     31
Voices Heard on the Way to Tenochtitlan   Hernando Cortes (1519)     34
The Voyage of Magellandiary entries   Ferdinand Magellan (1519-1522)     36
To Meet the Ransom   Francisco Pizarro (1532)     41
Remarks to Sir Francis Drake   Sir Francis Drake (1580)     42
A Prayer in Flight   Catalina de Erauso (1600)     44
Mutiny: The Ballad of Henry Hudson   Henry Hudson (1611)     46
Presenting the Case for New France to the Court   Samuel de Champlain (1615)     49
The Lady Who Works   Maria Sibylla Merian (1700)     51
The Botanist's Assistant   Jeanne Baret (1768)     53
Overheard on the Endeavor   James Cook (1768-1771)     55
At Our Trading Post   Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (1780)     58
Notes from A Voyage Round the World   Mary Ann Parker (1795)     59
Lullaby for Jean Baptiste   Sacagawea (1805)   Meriwether Lewis   William Clark     64
Explaining to Drouillard   York (1805)   Meriwether Lewis   William Clark     66
Discovery!   Mary Anning (1811)     69
The Amazing Surprise   John Ross   James Clark Ross (1829)     71
Journal Jottings   Charles Darwin (1831-1836)     73
I Love My Work   Richard Spruce (1850)     75
Please, Find Sir John!   Sir John Franklin (1853)     77
A Brief Autobiography   Ida Pfeiffer (1856)     79
Two Conversations in London   Sir Samuel   Mrs. Baker (1865)     81
Two Voices Heard on the Dark Continent   David Livingstone   Henry M. Stanley (1871)     84
The Grand Canyon   John Wesley Powell (1872)     86
The Challenger Expedition   Sir Charles Wyville Thomson (1875)     88
West Africa Notes   Mary Kingsley (1893-1895)     89
Drifting   Fridtjof Nansen (1894)     92
Butterfly Days: Netting   Margaret Fontaine (1901)     94
Advice to a Missionary's Wife   Mary Hall (1905)     96
Buena Suerte, Senorita Peck   Annie Peck (1908)     97
The Dash to the North Pole   Matthew Henson   Robert Peary (1909)     99
Answering Reporters before Leaving   Alice Huyler Ramsey (1909)     100
Two Expeditions on the Way to the South Pole   Roald Amundsen   Robert Falcon Scott (1911)     103
Voices Heard on the Way South   Ernest Shackleton (1914-1917)     105
My Kid Sister, Bessie   Bessie Coleman   Amelia Earhart (1937)     111
Summiting   Sir Edmund Hillary   Tenzing Norgay (1953)     114
Dawn at the Cosmodrome   Yuri Gagarin (1961)     116
John Glenn, the First American in Orbit   John Glenn (1962)     117
Valentina Teresh...what?   Valentina Tereshkova (1962)     119
The Landing   Neil Armstrong   Michael Collins   Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr. (1969)     120
On the Space Shuttle Discovery   Sally Ride (1983)     121
A Science Mission Specialist   Mae Jemison, MD (1992)     122
New Explorers   Heather Halstead (1999)     123
Herakleion: An Underwater City in the Bay of Abukir off the North Coast of Egypt   Dr. Amos Nur   Dr. Jean-Daniel Stanley (2000)     125
Sylvia Earle: Deep Ocean Explorer   Sylvia A. Earle, PhD (2001)     127
Imagining the Future$dSpirit and Opportunity (2004)     129
Author's Note     133
About the Explorers     139
Bibliography     193
Index of Titles     203
Index of First Lines     206
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2006

    The Great Age of Exploration

    Each of the sixty-two poems, was a miniature history lesson. When I started reading this book I hadn't heard of some of the explorers but now I know what each is famous, or infamous, for. This book would be a great addition to any teacher's classroom to help spice up the curriculum. Some of these informative poems are even kind of catchy, especially the one about Richard Spruce, the botanist.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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