Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Animals Marco Polo Saw

Animals Marco Polo Saw

Sandra Markle
Illustrator:  Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini 
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 7 to 10
Chronicle Books, 2009   ISBN: 978-0811850513

Marco Polo’s father and uncle were famous explorers who travelled far from their home in Italy. They went to Cathay (China) to buy silks, spices, and other exotic goods that would be worth a lot of money in the Italian marketplace. At this time, very few people left their homelands to visit far off lands. After they got back from their first trip east, Marco’s father and his uncle invited Marco to join them on their next expedition to Cathay. They were going back to Cathay to fulfill a request that Kublai Khan had made of them. Kublai Khan was the ruler of Cathay, and he wanted the Polos to bring Christian priests to Cathay so that he could learn about Christianity.

As the Polos travelled east, Marco saw many wondrous things, many of which he later described in a book that he wrote. Many of the animals that he encountered were completely new to him. In Hormuz he saw flocks of parrots and other exotic birds. It is likely that he saw his first elephant here. From here the Polos traveled in a caravan on the Silk Road, and during the journey Marco saw Persian Lions, a species that is now extinct.

Many months later Marco, his father, and his uncle crossed a tall mountain range called the Pamirs. On the far side of the mountains, Marco saw sheep that had huge horns, a species that has since been named Marco Polo sheep. When they reached the city of Kashgar, the Polos traded for camels and purchased supplies. Two deserts lay in front of them, and camels were best suited for the journey across such inhospitable regions.

This interesting book tells the story of Marco Polo’s famous journey, looking in particular at the animals that he would have encountered. Some of the animals would have carried him from place to place, while others were wild creatures that he would have seen from the road.

This is one of a series of books that describe the journeys made by famous explorers.