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Books help children discover Columbus

Published Oct. 12, 2005

To mark the 500th anniversary of the voyage of Christopher Columbus, the editors of The Horn Book magazine and The Horn Book Guide have compiled a list of 11 children's books about Columbus.

About 3,500 trade children's books are sent to the Horn Book offices each year. Reviewers include librarians, teachers, booksellers, authors and illustrators.

Follow the Dream by Peter Sis (Knopf, $15). This distinctive picture book focuses on the idea that Christopher Columbus spent his life trying to fulfill his dreams of adventure and discovery. On large, intricate pages, Sis vividly renders Columbus' vision of a New World. Full of simplicity, energy and idealism.

I, Columbus: My Journal 1492-3 by Peter and Connie Roop; illustrated by Peter Hanson (Walker, $13.95). Ages 8 to 12. This introduction to Columbus uses excerpts from his own log of his first voyage. The narrative clearly describes not only Columbus' triumph in finding a western land, but also the frustrations he faced. Hanson's delicate sketches add charm, insight and appeal.

Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz; illustrated by Margot Tomes (Putnam, $13.95).

Ages 8-12. This short biography, first published more than 10 years ago, remains one of the best. Fritz succeeds in capturing the essence of Columbus _ vain, stubborn, deeply religious _ and setting him in the context of his own time.

Christopher Columbus: How He Did It by Charlotte and David Yue (Houghton, $13.95). Ages 10-12. Columbus' feats are

described in the context of the technical knowledge of navigation, astronomy, mapping and shipbuilding available in the late 15th century. The book is age-appropriate and has an attractive presentation.

The Tainos: The People Who Welcomed Columbus by Francine Jacobs; illustrated by Patrick Collins (Putnam, $15.95). Ages 10-12. The Tainos welcomed Columbus to the Greater Antilles in 1492. Jacobs evenhandedly describes the conduct of the European explorers, allowing children _ who will find much of this information new _ to draw their own conclusions about the subsequent momentous clash between the two cultures.

Morning Girl by Michael Dorros (Hyperion, $12.95). Ages 12-14. In this novel about a close Taino family, the author draws readers inside another culture, making them care deeply about 12-year-old Morning Girl and rendering the story's conclusion _ Morning Girl's guileless welcome of Columbus and his men _ heartbreaking. Moving and poignant, written with great perception and humanity.

Christopher Columbus: Voyager to the Unknown by Nancy Smiler Levinson (Lodestar, $16.95). Ages 12-14. This dramatic biography portrays Columbus' seamanship, original ideas and determination while reporting as well on his character flaws and brutal treatment of the native peoples he encountered. Cleanly designed and filled with maps and reproductions, the book describes each of Columbus' four voyages.

If You Were There in 1492 by Barbara Brenner (Bradbury, $13.95). Ages 10-12. Everyday life in Spain is detailed in a personal, you-are-there text that describes food and clothing, education, arts and entertainment, and other aspects of the culture and civilization. Columbus' many activities are related throughout. The book ends with Oct. 12, 1492, the date Columbus landed in the New World.

The High Voyage: The Final Crossing of Christopher Columbus by Olga Litowinsky (Delacorte, $14.95). Ages 12-14. Fernando, the illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus, was 13 years old when he joined his father's ill-fated fourth voyage to the Indies in 1502. This highly readable novel is based on an actual book, The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus, written by Fernando.

The Discoverers of America by Harold Faber (Scribner's, $17.95). Young Adult. This ambitious account details the "great era of exploration, conquest and colonization" of North and South America. Among the many topics covered in its far-reaching discussion are the early voyages of the Norsemen, Columbus and others; the conquest of Mexico and Peru; the exploration of Brazil, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii.

Columbus and the World Around Him by Milton Meltzer (Watts, $13.95). Ages 12-16. Meltzer's biography for older readers explores the implications Columbus' "discovery" had on the peoples of both the Old and the New Worlds, and how his fateful journey affects our world today. A perceptive, serious account.