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Looking for Marco Polo by Alan Armstrong

Looking for Marco Polo

by Alan Armstrong

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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. ( )
  JGolomb | Mar 16, 2011 |
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When they lose touch with his father's Gobi Desert expedition, eleven-year-old Mark accompanies his mother to Venice, Italy, and there, while waiting for news of his father, learns about the legendary Marco Polo and his adventures in the Far East.

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