Sunday, May 6, 2007

Book Review - The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela

This picture book is an interesting fact-filled read about a medieval Jewish traveller known as Benjamin of Tudela. Over 100 years before Marco Polo made his journey, Benjamin left Tudela, Spain to travel throughout the known world - a journey that took him 14 years. The author, Uri Shulevitz used original Jewish sources to write about Benjamin's travels including Benjamin of Tudela's own account, appropriately titled, Book of Travels.

Each destination in The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela, and there are alot of them, is accompanied by unique, colourful artwork depicting a famous event or aspect of the locale. Shulevitz, in his author's note at the back of the book, writes that his "aim was to convey primarily a feeling of what it might have been like in Benjamin's day."

The places Benjamin visited include Marseilles, Genoa, Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Baghdad. Shulevitz frequently presents lesser-known facts about many of the historic cities and regions Benjamin visited. The book also contains a colourful, easy-to-read map outlining Benjamin's route throughout the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa. This is an excellent feature of the book, and helps young readers to put the scope of Benjamins travels in perspective.

This book is highly recommended.

Book Details:

The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela
Through Three Continents In The Twelfth Century
by Uri Shulevitz
2005 Farrar Straus Giroux