Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Marco Polo

Marco Polo

Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 10
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008   ISBN: 978-0761454335

Marco Polo was born in Italy in 1254, the son of a trader who bought and sold luxury goods. During his childhood, Marco’s father Niccolo was always away, traveling to distant lands to buy silks and other items that would sell for high prices in Italy. Then, finally, when Marco was fifteen, his father and his uncle Maffeo came back to Italy. During their travels, Niccolo and Maffeo had met Kublai Khan, the ruler in distant Cathay (China). Kublai Khan was interested in many things, and he was “tolerant of all religions.” He asked Niccolo and Maffeo to bring him holy oil from Jesus’ tomb in Jerusalem and “one hundred Christian men, so that he could learn if the Christian faith was the true religion.” Two years after coming back to Italy, Niccolo and Maffeo left Italy to fulfill Kublai Khan’s request, and this time they took seventeen year old Marco with them.

After many adventures, the Polos finally arrived at Kublai Khan’s summer palace. It had taken them many years to travel so far. However, their adventures and travels were not over. Kublai Khan was delighted to see Maffeo and Niccolo again, and he was much taken with Marco. He enjoyed having Marco by his side, and showed the young man the many wonderful things that Cathay had to offer. Kublai Khan sent Marco on trips around Cathay, and to India, Ceylon, and other lands as his ambassador.

In this carefully researched and well written book, Demi brings the story of Marco Polo to life. For every page, she has created gold touched illustrations in the style of thirteenth century Asian paintings. All of her illustrations have beautiful multimedia frames around them that give the book a magical and authentic feel.