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My Travels With Clara

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My Travels With Clara
By Mary Tavener Holmes. Illustrated by Jon Cannell. The J. Paul Getty Museum: 2007. Pg. 32. 33 Color illustrations.) ISBN 13: 978-0-89236-880-8.

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - November 16, 2007

My Travels With Clara is a delightful children's book by Mary Tavener Holmes. The text is accompanied by primitive and detailed illustrations by Jon Cannell. Based upon fact, My Travels With Clara follows the exploits of a Dutch sea captain, Douwe van der Meer, and his Indian rhinoceros, Clara. After purchasing Clara, van der Meer took Clara on a worldwide tour of Europe. She met kings, and princess, and people from every walk of life. Like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, Clara was the super-sensation of her day.

In this engrossing story, Holmes captures the wonder that people felt upon meeting the very tame, and very large, Clara. Van der Meer and Clara traveled around the Europe of the eighteenth century, and Holmes ably captures the feel and essence of the period. She also includes details about Clara's living conditions, diet, and how she was transported around Europe. The historical nature of this story is further enhanced by Cannell's illustrations. These illustrations include a plethora of objects and people that Clara came into contact with. They also illustrate the real-life items that were made with Clara's image on them. These include a beaded tapestry, medals, a portrait, coins, and figurines.

Written for children ages eight and up, this book will fascinate readers of all ages. Kids will love reading this charming book, and along the way they will effortlessly absorb a host of intriguing historical details.


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