Looking For Marco Polo
Random House, 2009
Eleven-year-old Mark’s anthropologist father has disappeared in the Gobi desert while tracing Marco Polo’s ancient route from Venice to China. His mother decides they must go to Venice to petition the agency that sent Mark’s father to send out a search party. Anxious about his father and upset about spending Christmas away from home, Mark gets a bad asthma attack in the middle of the night. That’s when Doc Hornaday, an old friend of Mark’s father, makes a house call, along with a massive black Tibetan mastiff called Boss. To distract Mark from his wheezing and to pass the long Venetian night, the Doc starts to spin for Mark the tale of Marco Polo. Doc describes Marco’s travels and the boy finds himself falling under the spell of the story that has transfixed the world for centuries. Marco’s journey bolsters Mark’s courage and whets his appetite for risk and adventure, and for exposure to life in all its immense and fascinating variety.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I like the concept well enough, but the execution is a bit dry. It was interesting to learn all of the history surrounding Marco Polo and Venice of that time period, but there wasn’t much of a plot to move the story along. I need a little more than a story about a boy, Mark, who doesn’t want to be in Venice during Christmas and misses his dad, reluctantly roaming the city to find out more history on Marco Polo. It was certainly a nice history lesson, but as a story overall, it’s hard to get through.
For the Classroom
This book, although not akin to my personal taste, would be great as a classroom companion for studying history related to Marco Polo and his time period specific to China, the silk road, and Venice.