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Smith, Barry
London, Penguin Books, 1992. unpaged, laminated boards, $19.99, ISBN 0-670-84051-3. Includes fold-out map. Distributed by Penguin Books Canada.

Grades 1 to 3/Ages 6 to 8

Reviewed by Jo Anna Burns Patton

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

With 1992 commemorating the voyage of Christopher Columbus, this is a timely addition to the collection of titles available. How refreshing to have a history book that is also fun to read.

Author Barry Smith describes the May 11th voyage of Christopher Columbus through the eyes of a young sailor who needs a job and approaches Columbus, the sea captain. At the time, the captain is planning to sail westwards from Palos, Spain, to find the island of Cipangu (Japan) in the land of Cathay (China), searching for treasure. Tracing the voyage on the colourful map provided, the reader can follow the trip as told in the story, from the Canary Islands to the first land sighting of the Bahamas, to the wrecking of one ship near Haiti, to the separation of the Nina and the Pinta in a storm and finally to Columbus' arrival back in Spain, months later.

Any reading of the text should be accompanied by additional documentation on the historic voyages of Christopher Columbus. Although true to the facts on many minor points, i.e., the sailors' threatening mutiny and the ship's log thrown over board during the storm, sketchy details were provided for other occurrences, e.g., the length of the trip and the treatment by the governor of the Azores. And although the Bahamas and Haiti are not identified on the map, young readers could have fun tracing and identifying places on Columbus' voyage. This book is an easy read and is very colourfully illustrated by the author with cartoonlike images, which young readers would find appealing.

A recommended purchase for school or children's libraries.

Jo Anna Burns Patton is a librarian at Miss Edgar's and Miss Cramp's School for Girls in Westmount, Quebec

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