At this time of Thanksgiving, we are reminded of the Pilgrim’s spirit of determination to create a life in a new land. Books about explorers share the sense of adventure and drive it must have taken to travel to far from home and make new discoveries.

“The Crossing: Lewis & Clark’s Historic Journey Seen Through a Brand-new Pair of Eyes” by Donna Jo Napoli, Illustrated by Jim Madsen, Atheneum Books, 2011, Ages 5-9.

The story of Sacagawea and her travels with the explorers Lewis and Clark is told through the eyes of the young child the Shoshoni woman carried throughout the journey in a cradle board on her back. As the group travels along the Missouri River west towards the Pacific Ocean, the sights and sounds of this majestic country are shared through poetic text and beautiful illustrations.

“Lewis & Clark” by Nick Bertozzi, First Second Publishing, 2011, Ages 12 and up.

This comic-book style version of Lewis and Clark’s travels focuses on the daily trials and tribulations of explorer’s journey, including illness, depression, and bad luck. Author Nick Bertozzi masterfully combines pen and ink panel illustrations with the speech bubbles holding limited text to tell both the historical and personal aspects of travel to the lands of America’s northwest.

“Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air” by Stewart Ross, Illustrated by Stephen Biesty, Candlewick Press, 2011, Ages 8 and up.

“Into the Unknown” travels through time by describing fourteen amazing journeys, beginning in 340 BC with the travels of Pytheas to the Arctic Circle, up to astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin’s 1969 landing on the moon. Detailed illustrations and clear captions add to the vivid descriptions which bring each explorer’s journey to life. In addition, fantastic unfolding cross sections give the reader detailed maps and an inside view of explorers’ tools of the trade, such as a Viking ship, an Italian airship and a mountaineer’s clothing and equipment.

“Marco Polo: History’s Great Adventurer”, by Clint Twist, Candlewick Press, 2011, Ages 8 and up.

Hidden pockets, envelopes, fold-out maps, and flaps invite readers to explore each page of this book to learn more about the famous explorer, Marco Polo. The borders, font style, and replicas of ancient illustrations create an experience of both reading and exploring and take the reader on Polo’s journeys to Xanadu, the Imperial City, Mien, and home to Venice.

Let these books about explorers take you on a reading exploration of adventures and discoveries.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler

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