Rereading: I DISCOVER COLUMBUS by Robert Lawson

I don’t know when people started denigrating Christopher Columbus and his “discovery” of America, but I don’t think anyone has done it as well and as humorously as Robert Lawson in this 1941 book. It’s told by Aurelio, a South American parrot who is caught in a massive storm in 1491 that blows him all the way to Spain. He lands in a monastery which is currently home to the penniless Don Cristóbal Colón, who teaches the bird Spanish. Before long, Aurelio has come up with a plan to get himself back home by helping Columbus get an audience with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to explain his grand plan of discovery. Isabella is the smart one, and Aurelio is soon conniving with her to get the Columbus expedition underway, but Chris seems very reluctant to actually take charge of the ships and crew he’s been given command of. Aurelio figures it out: he gets terribly seasick! With the help of the Queen and the actual ship captains, Chris is fooled into setting out with his three ships. After that, it’s Aurelio’s show all the way. When they do reach land in the Western Hemisphere, Columbus continues to get everything wrong. Only Aurelio can set things right.

A very entertaining read, and Lawson’s illustrations are as good as his writing. Recommended.

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