Lilting verse and multipatterned illustrations follow one family's arduous, yet fascinating yearlong, 2,000-mile caravan trip over China's Silk Road. The opening lines become a refrain ("We're riding on a caravan, a bumpy, humpy caravan,/ We're riding on a caravan to places far away") that undulates across the bottom of every spread. A multi-generational family, together with camels, donkeys, oxen and wagons all piled high with silken wares, leaves their hometown, Xi'an, in summer, traveling west to Lanzhou and across the Yellow River. When they finally reach Kashgar, they trade their goods at the famous Sunday market. Cann's (The Lady of Ten Thousand Names) full-bleed watercolors capture the changing landscapes and architecture styles along the journey. The variety of fabric patterns, pots and baskets emphasize the mingling of numerous cultures in Kashgar, while details such as leaves that resemble peacock feathers add a touch of whimsy. Krebs's (We All Went on Safari) verse, though often constrained to fit the rhyme scheme, brims with telling details ("Five months ago we reached Hami, worn out and sick and cold./ For winter in the desert was as harsh as we'd been told./ We warmed ourselves with goat-head soup and steaming cups of tea/ And rested there for several days before we left Hami"). A map of the Silk Road and informative sections on the history of silk and the Silk Road's major cities conclude this attractive volume. Ages 5-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"We're riding on a caravan, a bumpy, humpy caravan,/We're riding on a caravan to places far away." The rhyming text moves along in a spritely fashion and the refrain adds to the sense of journey. This story of a trip along the ancient Silk Road tells of adventure and hardships as the caravan travels from Xi'an to Kashgar to the market where silk is sold or traded for merchandise to take back home. The delightful, imaginative illustrations prepared in watercolor, graphite and collage complement the story beautifully. The faces have personality, many of the trees are abloom with peacock feathers and the marketplace is a bustling scene awash in color. There is also a spread of a map of the long and difficult path. The author includes a history of the Silk Road, an overview of several places along the way and a story of how silk was said to be discovered by a young Chinese empress. This is a wonderful book, with an interesting story told in such a way as to make it a joy to read aloud to youngsters. 2005, Barefoot Books, Ages 4 to 8.
Carolyn Mott Ford
Gr 1-4-One summer morning, a family of silk traders leaves Xi'an to begin their yearlong journey on the Silk Road in China. As the seasons change, they travel and trade their silk for various products along the route. They pass through an ever-changing landscape-huge sand dunes surrounding the oasis at Dunhuang, the vineyards and grape-drying huts of Turpan, and the high mountains near Kashgar where they sell their silk at the famous Sunday market and prepare to return home. Told in pleasant, well-crafted verse with a chorus of two sentences at the bottom of each spread, the story is engaging and generally informative. The short descriptions of places visited are accurate, both in the story and in the appended information about the Silk Road and the making of silk. However, life in a caravan is romanticized, especially in the illustrations, and no dates are given for what is clearly a historical tale. In addition, no sources or bibliography are included. The illustrations are bright and colorful, depicting a world much more beautiful than it is in reality. The artist used watercolor, graphite, and collage, often with marbled or decorative papers of vivid hues, which lend a brilliant richness to the pictures. Despite its drawbacks, this book is an excellent way to introduce the trade route. For older readers, John S. Major's The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History (HarperCollins, 1996) provides a more comprehensive introduction.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
While ultimately it may not entirely work as story or history, Krebs offers a glimpse into a part of human culture most youngsters-or oldsters-may not know at all. In rhyme, she tracks China's Silk Road, evocatively used these days as a metaphor for all kinds of cross-cultural memes, as a kind of exotic school chant. There's a running chorus, "We're riding on a caravan, a bumpy humpy caravan," and there's the first-person plural narrative, also rhymed, from Xi'an to Kashgar as silks are traded for wool, rice for bread. The yearlong trek ends at Kashgar's Sunday market, which still exists today. The colorful pictures, made with bits of silk brocade and marbled paper collage as well as watercolor, show many kinds of costume and many ages and genders of caravan travelers. The pictures are busy with animals and wagons, desert and mountains. Author's notes cover some background, but no sources are given. Adult readers will probably yearn for more information, but children will enjoy the bouncing rhythm and the intricate images. (Picture book. 5-8)