Westward with Columbus

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A fictionalized account of Columbus's voyage featuring one of the ship's boys is sandwiched rather jarringly in the middle of a brief discussion of a modern-day expedition aboard a replica of the Nina. Just when curiosity is piqued by the contemporary proceedings, the text swerves abruptly to ``Spain, May 23, 1492.'' While the book incorporates abundant information into both its factual and fictitious segments, the format and design seem helter-skelter; the work ultimately attempts too much and succeeds only in confusing the reader. Even the illustrations are an uneasy amalgam of styles: many spreads contain Christopher's excellent photographs, historical drawings and--apparently uncredited--original drawings, charts and maps. Occasional sidebars add to the jumble. It appears that a unique, potentially intriguing account of a stalwart band trying to relive Columbus's historic journey has been sacrificed for yet another fictitious treatment. A better novelization for this age group is Miriam Schlein's recent I Sailed with Columbus . Ages 8-12. (Dec.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-- Fiction alternates with fact in this account of a modern voyage undertaken to prove that Columbus took a more southerly route than is generally believed. The nonfiction portion describes the trip made by Spanish historian, Luis Miguel Coin, who believes that Columbus followed a secret map through Portuguese-held waters. Excellent full-color photographs show a crew of students dressed in 15th-century costume, aboard ship and reenacting Columbus's claiming of the New World for Spain. A map shows the historically accepted route as well as Coin's, and the narrative explains the natural clues he used to support his claim. The fictional account of Pedro, a young deck hand on the Santa Maria who returns to Spain on the Nina after that vessel sank, incorporates many details of shipboard life, portrays the anguish of the Indians who were forced to accompany Columbus to Spain, and gives a plausible (if undocumented) explanation of how there could have been a secret map. While students doing reports may find the alternating texts confusing, the book is valuable for the illustrative material. Readers may wish to compare it with the Roops' I, Columbus (Walker, 1990), which consists of excerpts from Columbus's own shipboard journals and with Nancy Levinson's Christopher Columbus (Lodestar, 1990), which incorporates much recent scholarship on Columbus into a readable work. --Jean H. Zimmerman, Willett School, South River, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590438476
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/10/1993
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 980L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.51 (w) x 10.97 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2006

    Unknown Pilot yarn revived

    It is unfortunate that this children's book revives the 500-year-old yarn that Columbus possessed a secret map. According to one version of this yarn, this map was drawn around 1477 by the pilot of a Portuguese ship, which was swept across the Atlantic Ocean by a fierce storm. The storm carried the pilot to the West Indies and back to the Madeira Islands, where Columbus lived. Supposedly, Columbus acquired the map when the pilot died. In 1492 Columbus retraced the route on this map to reach the West Indies. This legend is discussed in many books, and some authors refer to it as 'the story of the Unknown Pilot.' The yarn was concocted to discredit Columbus and to minimize the importance of his voyage. The 'Unknown Pilot' legend was first published in 1535 by Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo. After relating various versions of the yarn, Oviedo wrote, 'As for me, I hold it to be false.' On page 62 of 'Admiral of the Ocean Sea,' Samuel Eliot Morison wrote: 'Certain modern pundits ... snap at this Tale of an Ancient Mariner and swallow it, hook, line and sinker.' This is a perfect description of Luis Coin Cuenca, who is featured in this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2006

    Unknown Pilot yarn revived

    It is unfortunate that this children's book revives the 500-year-old yarn that Columbus possessed a secret map. According to one version of this yarn, this map was drawn around 1477 by the pilot of a Portuguese ship, which was swept across the Atlantic Ocean by a fierce storm. The storm carried the pilot to the West Indies and back to the Madeira Islands, where Columbus lived. Supposedly, Columbus acquired the map when the pilot died. In 1492 Columbus retraced the route on this map to reach the West Indies. This legend is discussed in many books, and some authors refer to it as 'the story of the Unknown Pilot.' The yarn was concocted to discredit Columbus and to minimize the importance of his voyage. The 'Unknown Pilot' legend was first published in 1535 by Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo. After relating various versions of the yarn, Oviedo wrote, 'As for me, I hold it to be false.' On page 62 of 'Admiral of the Ocean Sea,' Samuel Eliot Morison wrote: 'Certain modern pundits ... snap at this Tale of an Ancient Mariner and swallow it, hook, line and sinker.' This is a perfect description of Luis Coin Cuenca, who is featured in this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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