cover image Looking for Marco Polo

Looking for Marco Polo

Alan Armstrong, illus. by Tim Jessell. Random, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-375-83321-2

Newbery Honor author Armstrong (Whittington) weaves the story of Marco Polo into an entertaining contemporary tale. Eleven-year-old Mark's father, a passionate anthropologist, leaves for a six-month research trip to study Mongol herders in the Gobi Desert. When his father disappears, Mark and his mother travel to Venice in the hopes of finding him through the agency he works for. There, Mark suffers an asthma attack and spends time with Doctor Hornaday, an acquaintance of his father's, and his mastiff, Boss, both of whom are Marco Polo scholars and great storytellers ("Stories and strangenesses are like falling feathers%E2%80%94they pass and are gone forever unless you catch them as they go," remarks Hornaday). Like Mark, readers should quickly be drawn into Marco Polo's colorful life and his travels, a story purportedly passed down through generations of people and animals ("Dogs have history just like people," Boss tells Jack. "We know. We remember"). Mark's authentic and emotional letters to his father and Jessell's detailed pencil drawings enhance this rich recreation of the late 13th century. Ages 8%E2%80%9412. (Sept.)