"Here is not merely an account of travels and high adventure but also a story of character, of a man of honesty and courage. Seen through the eyes of Tonio, the young companion of Marco Polo, who is the hero of the story, the great Venetian traveler is a character to inspire boys and girls of today." - from the dust jacket
Written in 1935, it is "lavishly illustrated" by Baldrige and Quinn. I wouldn't exactly say "lavishly", but the woodcut-type illustrations are adequate. We used Milton Rugoff's book, Marco Polo's Adventures in China to look at maps, pictures and places mentioned in He Went With Marco Polo.
All the famous tales are covered in Kent's book, from the golden apples to the fog in the desert. Our favorite was the slightly disturbing chapter "Rope Trick". We did some further research on that one because the children were so interested in this seemingly impossible and murderous magic trick. (For those interested, here's an explanation.)
Parents and kids alike will enjoy the Introduction in which Kent gives some background for the book. She says:
"When Marco got back to Venice, where he lived,he told people all about the new places and queer people he had seen. They didn't believe him. They made fun of him. If one boy wanted to call another a liar, he would say: 'You're a regular Marco Polo!'"See if your students catch the dichotomy between Polo's eventual reputation for exaggeration (lying?) and the esteemed character given him in much of children's literature. Nonetheless, this book cemented Polo's path in the children's minds and they enjoyed reading it daily.
Louise Andrews Kent also wrote a few other stories in this same format. I'll conclude with a list of those titles:
- (1935) He went with Marco Polo: A Story of Venice and Cathay
- (1940) He went with Christopher Columbus
- (1943) He went with Magellan
- (1947) He went with Vasco da Gama
- (1959) He went with Champlain
- (1961) He went with Drake
- (1967) He went with Hannibal