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Animals Christopher Columbus Saw: An Adventure in the New World    by Sandra Markle & Jamel Akib order for
Animals Christopher Columbus Saw
by Sandra Markle
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2009 (2009)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Deb Kincaid

Award winning author Sandra Markle has penned more than 100 children's nonfiction books. Animals Christopher Columbus Saw is another winner. Markle doesn't rehash all the same information kids get in their school lessons, but supplements it with intriguing facts and commentary extracted from Columbus's ship's logs about animals the crew encountered.

Her skillful use of language, and the subdued yet refreshing way she captures the drama, challenges, and rewards of Columbus's exploratory voyage will keep young readers immersed in the narrative. Complementary side notes on facing pages provide details on the Sargasso Sea, or why camels are uniquely suitable for the desert, for instance. Weaving natural science with the historical context of 15th century Europe, Markle again brings period history to life. An especial appeal to me is that Markle humanizes Columbus and his crew, making the story satisfyingly accessible and relative.

The original illustrations in Animals Christopher Columbus Saw were created in pastels by the British award winning artist, Jamel Akib. What a revelatory story he tells by them! One feels the light breezes, hears the lapping of the waves against the ship, and relishes the variety of colorful sea creatures below the water's surface; we can smell the salty air. Akib's artistry exquisitely complements Markle's text.

Educators, librarians, and parents will find Animals Christopher Columbus Saw useful in cultivating an appreciation for the historical roles animals played in the New World's past.

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