Kubla Khan: The Emperor of Everything, by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Robert Byrd.
I found this delightful picture book in the museum shop at the Met, outside the World of Khubilai Khan exhibit. It’s brand new, published in 2010. The story is well-researched and beautifully told, with lively language and rich detail. The illustrations are phenomenal! The map of the Mongol Empire in the end pages is charming, and you can learn a lot about the Mongols and how they lived simply by perusing the pictures on each page. The book is labeled “ages 8 up” – and it is indeed far more sophisticated than your average picture book. Highly recommended!
On Robert Byrd’s website, he says “My canvas is a stage filled with characters like an opera.” Precisely!
I have found many of Kathleen Krull’s marvelous nonfiction books already on my shelves, including Lives of the Writers and Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez. She has a website and contributes to a blog called I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.