Animals Marco Polo Saw: Travelogue for Children
By Dr. Meg
The cover of this children’s book shows exotic travelers winding in an arc which leads to opening this slender volume. The reader’s hand then forms a natural movement, swooping to join the search for the book’s subtitle: An Adventure on the Silk Road. This delightful creation reminds both adults and youngsters: Animals accompanied every step of humans as they swarmed to explore this rocky planet Earth.
The author, Sandra Markle, and illustrator, Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, have produced the Explorers Series, which also includes Animals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around-the-World Adventure; Animals Christopher Columbus Saw: An Adventure in the New World;, and Animals Robert Scott Saw: An Adventure in Antarctica. Wondrous beasts peep from every corner of this book’s cover, book jacket, and pages.
This book also gently reminds readers that books become key partners in the enormous adventure humans undertake when they realize they are not alone, and never have been alone on their spinning planet. The text explains:
“After spending years traveling the world, Marco told people about his adventures. His stories were written down, and they became the world’s very first travel guide. What is today called The Travels of Marco Polo describes his travels to Mongolia and the Far East, a part of the world that includes China, Japan, Thailand, and the other countries of East Asia.”
Adults may equally grin with surprise as they recollect that explorers were circling the globe centuries before satellites continued their mission. Illustrations include Marco leaning over his father’s shoulder as they study maps filled with mystery. Immediately, the text adds boxed explanations of silk production, starting with particular moth caterpillars, the unwinding of the moth’s cocoon, and the moths’ contribution to a single yard of shiny fabric.
Animals Marco Polo Saw includes notes on skill sets and key concepts built into the series. It also demonstrates that one book leads to another—in this case, The Description of the World, by a later associate of the first author. Its exquisite planning concludes with a Map of Marco Polo’s Travels, which thus places the reader in the exact position of the boy once looking over his father’s shoulder at mystery which became reality both for him and his awed descendants.
To list this series’ virtues fully would require a book filled with wonder, too. Let young readers begin this project as soon as possible. Their stories of their very own beasts may delight relatives, friends, and teachers alike. And nobody will have to ask them to draw pictures after seeing this series. They may just walk out in the morning, look up, and see the creatures which, a millennium from now, will become participants in volumes they can’t help composing.