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“Gold is a wonderful thing! Whoever owns it is lord of all he wants,” Columbus. –The Search for El Dorado
The Search for El Dorado
Totally True Adventures
by Lois Miner Huey
AR Test, Good for Reluctant Readers
Towers of gold! Glittering streets! Jewels, coins, and more! Early Spanish explorers heard a story about El Dorado. It was a lost city in the Americans, made of gold. The explorers believed they could find it. Soon the story became a legend, and the legend changed the world. But the city of El Dorado has not been found. . . yet.
The book begins by explaining the Muisca tribe’s traditions and beliefs, which is where the legend of El Dorado most likely started. Then in the 1400s, the Europeans thirst for gold and riches caused explorers to begin searching for the mythical city. In search of a new trade route, Christopher Columbus set sail, looking for a way to get from Europe to Asia. Columbus’s travels inspired others to travel to the Americas in search of gold. The Search for El Dorado explains how the European’s search for gold affected the native people as well as Europeans.
The Search for El Dorado explains the difference between a myth and a legend. “For people who believe, both myth and legends have their own power.” Even though El Dorado has never been found, “El Dorado has become part of our language. It still means something shiny and golden. Mostly, it now stands for an impossible dream that can’t be reached.” Even though El Dorado is a fictional place, the story of El Dorado still inspires people to dream big.
The Search for El Dorado uses short chapters and explains some of the vocabulary, which makes the book accessible to reluctant readers. Large black and white illustrations appear every 5 to 9 pages that show the astronauts in action. Detailed illustrations give readers a glimpse at the time period’s clothing, ships, and people. While the book is easy enough for young, fluent readers, the content will be interesting to older readers as well. The back of the book contains a timeline, additional books to read, and facts about Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela.
As the Europeans expanded into the Americas, greed was the root cause of their travels. The Search for El Dorado explores how the explorers negatively impacted the indigenous people. The book focuses on Christopher Columbus, Sir Walter Raleigh, and other explorers. While the book has many interesting facts, much of the book reads like a history book. The author explains that the search for El Dorado is “a shameful chapter in the history of the Americas.” Anyone who is interested in history or the colonization of the Americas should read The Search for El Dorado. However, others may want to skip this particular book.
- Pirates attacked Columbus’s ship. “His ship was burned, and Columbus had to swim to shore.”
- Sir Walter went in search of El Dorado’s gold. He took his son, Wat, with him. Wat “was a young man and didn’t always think about his actions. He attacked a Spanish fort and was killed.”
- When Sir Walter returned to England without gold, “the king ordered for him to be killed.”
- In the search for El Dorado, “so many natives were killed, tortured, and enslaved that it’s difficult to believe. . .The Europeans rode into cities and villages and grabbed what they wanted: not only treasure, but men, women, and children to work for them.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- The legend of El Dorado may have started with the Muisca tribe’s culture. When a chief died, a new leader was chosen. Mud and gold dust was smeared all over a young man’s body. “Now he was the Golden man. Would the great god of the lake accept this young man as the next leader?”
- The Golden Man took a raft to the middle of the lake and “threw jewels into the middle of the lake. These were gifts to the gods.” The Golden Man jumped into the water and dove down. “He went down, down, down to where the gods lived.” If the gods were pleased, the man would swim to the surface. “The gods had accepted him. . . The Golden Man was now chief.”