Book Buddies: Marco Polo Brave Explorer by Cynthia Lord

Book Buddie: Marco Polo Brave Explorer

Cynthia Lord, Author

Stephanie Graegin, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 29, 2022

Suitable for ages; 6-9

Themes: Library, Borrowing books, Repurposing toys, Friendship, Bravery

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Marco Polo is a small felt mouse who used to be a Christmas ornament on Anne the Librarian’s tree. But now he’s one of the Book Buddies, toys that can be checked out just like books. Marco  Polo may be small, but he’s also a brave explorer looking for adventure — if only someone would check him out of the library.

Seth is a boy who visits the library with his dad and younger brother. He wishes he could be a little more brave especially when he goes on his first sleepover. But maybe a small explorer like Marco Polo is just the kid of friend he needs.

From Newbery Honor winner Cynthia Lord and celebrated artist Stephanie Graegin, here is the second title in a heartwarming series about a group of friendly toys at the library and the children who borrow them.

Why I like this Marco Polo Brave Explorer:

Children will be captivated by Cynthia Lord’s heartwarming Book Buddies chapter book series.  Marco Polo Brave Explorer is the second book, preceded by Ivy Lost and Found. It is the first series I’ve seen that pairs friendly toys with children who may need them to work through a difficult time. I love the idea that the toys are repurposed and given a chance to be loved again by more children. Such a great idea to check out a toy along with a book from a library.

The story is narrated in third person. Seth has been invited to Ben’s birthday party and sleepover and he’s not feeling very brave. What if he hears funny noises or wants to go home?  He doesn’t dare take his worn rabbit. Ben may think he’s silly or childish. Seth goes to the library to pick out a book and listen to the story time. The children are invited to find a book buddy and Seth spots tiny Marco Polo,  Anne the Librarian thinks Marco Polo is perfect for Seth and says that “brave explorers have big adventures.” And Marco Polo does have a big adventure when the Ben’s cat takes him off Seth’s pillow. He’ll have a big story to tell!  

The short chapters will engage children, as will Graegin’s lovely pen and ink illustrations on nearly every page. I look forward to more Book Buddy adventures with new borrowers. 

Cynthia Lord is the author of award-winning middle grade fiction titles such as the Newbery Honor Book Rules, and most recently Because of the Rabbit. She is also the author of Shelter Pet Squad chapter book series and the Book Buddies series. She lives in Maine.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick in exchange for a review.


About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

28 thoughts on “Book Buddies: Marco Polo Brave Explorer by Cynthia Lord

  1. This is an interesting concept. I wonder if any libraries do something similar. I once belonged to a toy library, but it wasn’t also a library for books.


      • Patricia, I tried to pop back and leave a comment on the post in which you reviewed Pighearted but your comments are closed there. I just wanted to let you know that I have finished reading it and loved it. It’s adorable and has so much humour and heart and would be great for opening up some of those ethical discussions. I really appreciated the information that Alex Perry included in the back of the book about her inspiration for writing and further details about the chimera project. Thank you for sharing your review.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t know why my comments are blocked. But, I’m delighted that you enjoyed Pighearted as much as I did. Fun humor. It’s a wonderful discussion book for kids because of the kinds of ethics they will deal with in the future — things we can’t imagine!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s right, Patricia. We adults could do with some discussion on those issues too. I’m inclined to think children’s opinions would be very valuable, especially if they haven’t been influenced by adult thinking yet.


      • Yes, I think so too. They are questions that are not easy for any of us to answer, but it’s their generation who will be making the decisions in the future. I don’t think I envy them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A great idea to connect books and toys. This series would be a perfect lead in to more challenging books. The main character would be one many kids would understand. Thanks for featuring your review on MMGM.


  3. Patricia! How could you have missed Haywood’s Betsy books? I was always enthralled by the fact that my mother could have read them as she was setting off to school for the first time in the early 1940s. My absolute favorite is Snowbound with Betsy, which might be harder to find. They are available in e book format, but I don’t know if they preserve the author’s delightful illustrations.


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