Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Marco Polo: The boy who traveled the Medieval World

Marco Polo: The boy who traveled the Medieval World

Nick McCarty
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
National Geographic, 2006   ISBN: 978-0792258933

Before he was born Marco Polo’s father Niccolo and his uncle Maffeo left their hometown of Venice to go on a trading trip to Constantinople. Marco’s mother died soon after her son was born and Marco did not meet his father until 1269 when Marco was fifteen. Apparently Niccolo and Maffeo went on an amazing journey and they met and were befriended by Kublai Khan, the great Mongol leader. Kublai Khan had asked the brothers to take a message from him to the pope in Rome and to bring wise Christian men to visit him in China. Niccolo and Maffeo did not forget their promise and in 1271 they set off for China once again. This time they took Marco with them.

Marco was just seventeen when he left Venice and it must have been very exciting for him to see new lands and different kinds of people who spoke strange languages and who had customs that were very different from his own. It was a long journey and the three Polos suffered many hardships. Four years after leaving Venice they arrived at Shang-du, Kublai Khan’s summer residence. Though one journey was now over, a whole new set of adventures awaited Marco.

In this beautifully presented biography the author not only tells us about Marco Polo’s remarkable life but he also gives us a colorful and fascinating picture of medieval life. A timeline at the bottom of the pages helps readers see what was going on in the world in Marco’s lifetime. In addition the book is full of annotated illustrations and photographs, informative text boxes, maps and more. Readers will be left with a vivid and very colorful portrait of a man and an era, and they will be able to truly appreciate how much Marco Polo’s experiences - and the book in which he describes them - changed the world forever.