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by Demi

illustrated by Demi



Demi describes this handsome but problematic life of the Mongol leader generally known as Genghis Khan as her own “interpretation…based upon both historical resources and folklore.” Emphasizing his heroic deeds, genius as a leader, and the sheer magnitude of his empire, she conjures up a warlord to inspire pride, as Diane Stanley did with Shaka, King of the Zulus (1988); like Stanley, she focuses more on the glory than on the gore–the tyrant’s horrendous other side. Demi’s illustrations are rich with shining gold; they have an elegant simplicity of design and subdued colon suitable to the subject’s gravity. The small, simply represented figures, though derived from oriental art, at times seem inappropriately childlike, while the playful camels and horses (especially on the endpapers) are downright coy. Though the book as a whole is beautiful, the style tends to trivialize the subject. Perhaps it’s curmudgeonly to complain of the heroic treatment of a national hero; after all, The White Stag (1937) celebrated Attila the Hun, yet won the Newbery. What Demi includes here is fascinating, well-researched, and contains a good many harsh truths. Still, much is omitted, and it’s worrisome to present children with such a positive picture of a military leader whose wars were typified by one source as “ruthless carnage. (Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1991)



4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Ages 9-12, Biography, Non-fiction