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The Adventures of Marco Polo


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About the Author

Russell Freedman is a nonfiction writer who prefers to be called a "factual author." He says that's because lots of people think "nonfiction" is less interesting and less important than fiction. Freedman tries to stamp out that myth with every book he writes.
Freedman chooses only topics that he is interested in and wants to learn more about. He likes to write about people in history who have character traits that stand out and make them memorable.
Freedman is the author of 44 books including Lincoln: A
Photobiography, for which he won the 1988 Newbery Medal; and
The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane, for
which he won the 1992 Newbery Honor.
Linas Alsenas, 2001 Harvard University graduate in History of Art and Architecture, grew up with his two older siblings and two parents. Author of Peanut (2007) and Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation (2006), Linas plans to continue writing and illustrating books for children and young adults. He currently lives in Sweden with his partner and their pet parrot named Oliver.

Bagram Ibatoulline was born in Russia and educated at the Moscow State Academic Art Institute. He has illustrated many books for children, including THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO by Russell Freedman, and CROW CALL by Lois Lowry. Bagram lives in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania.


This handsome volume -- with faux-aged paper, archival prints, original art reminiscent of the Middle Ages, and gold leaf decorating the jacket -- resembles a fourteenth-century manuscript, an appropriate aesthetic for a book about Marco Polo. Freedman sets his focus by posing two questions: "Did he really travel to China and beyond, as he claimed? Or was he, in fact, 'the man of a million lies'?" Freedman provides necessary background by writing of Polo's experiences and using liberal quotes from Polo's own Description of the World. Some descriptions seem fanciful, but Freedman asks readers to consider Polo's provincial point of view. Perhaps the creatures Polo encountered in Yunnan Province -- "snakes" that walked on legs and could eat a man -- were actually crocodiles, an animal unknown in Europe. But such fantastic images, as well as Polo's tendency toward self-aggrandizement, his habit of usurping the accounts of others, the numerous abridgments, and a litany of things he did not report, also address the larger question of the journey's veracity. An author's note suggests more complex resources on the Polo debate. Also included are notes about the art (referencing specific illustrations) and an index. B.C.
Booklist Starred
The name Marco Polo evokes images of faraway travels and exotic treasures: silks and spices, gold and jewels. Newbery Medal winner Freedman takes readers along on Polo's journey in a book that is as beautiful as many of the sights the explorer observed. It begins at Polo's deathbed, his family begging him to confess his exaggerations. Even some contemporary scholars don't believe Polo went to China, but many observers think most of his tales were true. Using Polo's own descriptions (as told to a writer he met in prison), Freedman shepherds readers across deserts, down the Silk Road, and over mountains until the adventurer reaches the magnificent kingdom of Kublai Khan. Supporting Freedman's informative yet evocative prosei

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