cover image The Boy Who Sailed with Columbus

The Boy Who Sailed with Columbus

Michael Foreman. Arcade Publishing, $16.95 (71pp) ISBN 978-1-55970-178-5

Not just another quincentennial volume, this sweeping, original tale recounts the fictional adventures of Leif, an orphan boy recruited by Columbus to sail aboard the Santa Maria . Along with a skeleton crew, he is left behind on one of the islands to start a colony and await Columbus's return. At this point, the story shifts its focus to the native peoples of the New World. Leif is kidnapped and taken under the wing of a blind medicine man who instructs him in the ways of a shaman and takes him to a place ``that stretched all the way to the sunset'' (what is now North America), where together they journey from tribe to tribe imparting wisdom and native lore. If the authors falter at all here, it's in trying to cover too much ground--towards the end of the story, for example, time telescopes and the pace begins to seem rushed. But that's a minor flaw in such an ambitious, well-researched and well-executed book, especially one punctuated by Foreman's exquisitely haunting, light-drenched watercolors. Along with Jane Yolen's Encounter (Children's Forecasts, Mar. 9), this alternative Columbus tale will satisfy readers ready for meatier fare. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)