Leonardo da Vinci

Book review by
Mary LeCompte, Common Sense Media
Leonardo da Vinci Book Poster Image
Filled with fascinating facts and some surprises.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the picture-book format and outstanding illustrations make it highly appealing for children. The text is friendly and loaded with interesting details about the subject.

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What's the story?

Leonardo da Vinci is more than just the life story of one of the world's greatest artists and thinkers. It's a blend of European history and art history, beautifully realized with detailed illustrations and original reproductions. It's also filled with fascinating facts and some surprises--hold the back cover up to a mirror to reveal one of Leonardo's trade secrets!


Is it any good?

Diane Stanley's LEONARDO DA VINCI is every parent's answer to the problem of dry, boring biographies. Kids will want to read this book -- cover to cover -- and then read it again. What sets it apart from other biographies is the author's ability to bring her well-researched text to life with finely detailed illustrations that blend the famous artist's work with her own.

Stanley's art is a stunning combination of watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, and photo collage of Leonardo's greatest works; it's so rich and detailed that it almost tells the story all by itself. The text is packed with little-known facts, such as how da Vinci's 24-foot clay sculpture of a horse was never cast in bronze as intended, and was eventually used for target practice by the French. Readers also learn how he frequently abandoned paintings and how he protected his notes by writing in backward script. Kids will hurry to the nearest mirror to read the backward text on the back cover.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Da Vinci's diverse talents. What were his strengths? What were his weaknesses? Which of his creations and ideas do we see in the world today?

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