Monday, April 23, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Animals Marco Polo Saw and Animals Christopher Columbus Saw by Sandra Markle

Goodness, it's been a whole week since I've added a new post.  Mostly this is because last week was crazy at school.  Testing is starting and everyone is stressed out.  Plus I had a workshop to attend dealing with the new Common Core.  It was quite interesting, but more about that later.  This week I'm hoping to finish up my Top books lists and post a giveaway, offering one of my readers any three books from any of my top lists.  We'll see if it actually happens.

Today, I'm posting about a couple of books by one of my favorite nonfiction writers for children.  My school was lucky enough to have a Skype visit with Sandra Markle a couple of weeks ago.  She did some really awesome science experiments that the students really enjoyed.  Unfortunately, I had trouble with the technology. ARGGGGHHH! Sigh. Such is life.  Anyway, here are a couple of books that would be great to use as supplements to units on the history of exploration.

Animals Christopher Columbus Saw: An Adventure in the New World
by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Jamel Akib
Chronicle Books, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8118-4916-6

Grades 2-5
Reviewed from personal copy.

In this new series by award-winning author Sandra Markle, famous explorers take a back seat to the animals they encountered along the way. While nothing about Christopher Columbus' journey was expected, he couldn't have imagined feasting on roasted lizard! Through nimble writing and beautiful paintings, this series casts the past in a whole new light!

Animals Marco Polo Saw: An Adventure on the Silk Road
by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini
Chronicle Books, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8118-5051-3
Grades 2-5
Reviewed from personal copy.

A continuation of the Explorers series by award-winning author Sandra Markle, Animals Marco Polo Saw brings to life the amazing, exotic animals Marco Polo encountered during his explorations in Asia, how the animals sometimes affected the outcome of the journey, and even helped the explorer survive!

I found both of these books well-written and informative.  The gorgeous illustrations do a wonderful job of depicting the places that these explorers visited.  The stories are told simply enough to be appropriate for 2nd graders, but detailed enough to work well with 5th graders as well.  One of the things I learned was that during Christopher Columbus's day, sailors mistakenly assumed that sea birds were an indication of land nearby.  That is of course not true, some sea birds, such as albatrosses, spend years at sea without so much as glimpsing land. In Marco Polo, I learned that traveling at that time was not only difficult in terms of terrain and climate, but also in terms of bandits and pirates and massive distances.  Learning about some of the animals that these explorers might have seen on their journeys makes the whole thing seem more real.  It's also kind of sad when one thinks of the animals that these explorers saw that are no longer around, such as the Persian lion.  I highly recommend both these books for both classroom use and for browsers.


  1. Thank you for participating in nonfiction Monday! Both these book look fascinating. Thanks for sharing them. :)

  2. Love the cover of both books! Can't wait to visit the library and grab copies of these! Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. These look great, and would be good companion books. I try to teach my kids about the differences between nature in my home country and theirs, and these would help!


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