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Leonardo Da Vinci
by Maurice Walter Brockwell
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Older children will certainly appreciate the wealth of information in this complete and fascinating biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Illustrated in an Old Masters style, the book follows the life of da Vinci from birth to death and gives a detailed account of his extraordinary achievements, not only in his painting but also as an engineer, scientist, and inventor who is centuries ahead of his time. The treatment of da Vinci's famous notebooks usefully conveys the power of the man's imagination. His practice of writing in a backward script from right to left, requiring a mirror to decipher it, will intrigue children. (The dust jacket bears such lettering on the back, which should immediately prompt a run to the bathroom mirror.) An accomplished and engaging biography for children.
From Publishers Weekly
Adding this Renaissance genius to the illustrious lineup of individuals whose lives she and Peter Vennema have chronicled, among them Cleopatra, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, Stanley produces her most stunning pictorial biography to date. Drawing from a range of sources, including her subject's extensive notebooks, Stanley's conversational narrative describes Leonardo da Vinci's astoundingly far-reaching and varied achievements. Young readers will come to appreciate both da Vinci's universally renowned accomplishments as a painter and the breadth of his scientific experimentation and research. While her text is thoroughly intriguing, even more impressive is the artistic challenge Stanley takes on and triumphantly meets: her paintings not only portray the period particulars and likenesses of da Vinci, his patrons and colleagues, but successfully incorporate, in seamless collages, miniature reproductions of such celebrated masterpieces as The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. These exquisite reproductions, as well as sepia-toned spot art taken from da Vinci's notebooks, sit uncommonly well within Stanley's own paintings, educating the reader about da Vinci's masterpieces as a natural part of the visual storytelling. A virtuosic work. Ages 7-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7?Using the format found in her biographies of Cleopatra, Dickens, Shakespeare, and Shaka, Stanley gives readers a fascinating portrait of the Italian genius. The text is readable and interesting; the author is careful to distinguish between facts and surmises, and uses quotes from Leonardo's own writings to demonstrate his attitudes. His possible homosexuality is not discussed. The book's design is exemplary, with text pages bordered by an adaptation of a Leonardo drawing and decorated with images from his notebooks. Full-page paintings in watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, and photo collage face each page of text, many of them showing the artist-inventor testing his creations. A postscript describes the unhappy fate of Leonardo's remains and of his paintings and lost notebooks. A pronunciation guide is included. Richard McLanathan's Leonardo da Vinci (Abrams, 1990) covers the same ground in more detail and for somewhat older readers; Richard Muhlberger's What Makes a Leonardo a Leonardo? (Viking, 1994) is concerned primarily with his paintings, while Rosabianca Skira-Venturi's A Weekend with Leonardo da Vinci (Rizzoli, 1993) is written as though in the artist's own words.?Pam Gosner, Maplewood Memorial Library, NJ
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The New York Times Book Review, Leslie Bennetts
... a stunning account ... this distinguished volume ... is a first class production in every way.
Gr. 3^-7. Well researched, intelligently written, and beautifully illustrated, this is the best of the many children's books on Leonardo. Stanley begins with a brief introduction to the Italian Renaissance and then looks at the life of the artist. The text pages feature a series of sketches from Leonardo's notebooks. These vivid drawings, chosen to reflect ideas and events in the story, juxtapose well with the large illustrations created with colored pencil, gouache, and watercolors on the facing pages. Stanley seems to draw inspiration from her subject, creating a series of paintings that transcend her previous work in technique, subtlety, sensitivity, grace, and depth of feeling. She brings the period to life in paintings following Leonardo from his baptism to his deathbed. The craftsmanship that makes this biography so solid in concept, appealing in design, and accessible in presentation extends to the scholarship behind it, as glimpsed in the appended postscript and bibliographies. Carolyn Phelan
From Kirkus Reviews
He might be called an eccentric and a dreamer. Stanley (Elna, p. 142, etc.) goes to great lengths to portray Leonardo da Vinci as a real person, explaining how his genius often went unrecognized by the generations that followed his. His out-of-wedlock birth prevented him from entering upper-class professions (law, medicine, or banking), so Leonardo became an artist by trade. He had difficulty completing the arduous task of painting: His restlessness comes across through the hundreds of inventions and ideas recorded in his notebooks, at least a third of which, readers may be surprised to learn, have been lost. In fact, much of what Leonardo is known for is incomplete or lost: A giant bronze statue of Francesco Sforza on horseback was never made, and the experimental paint Leonardo used for The Last Supper began peeling not long after the painting's completion. Stanley's large, accessible art mirrors the mood of the Renaissance. Insets help readers see what the text describes, and a thorough bibliography provides sources for more information. More than Leonardo's genius, this book captures the caprice time and fate plays on even the gifted, so that what readers finally admire in Leonardo are not his creations, but his ideas. (pronunciation guide, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7+) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
-- ALA Booklist
"This is the best of the many children's books on Leonardo."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"A stunning account. A first class production in every way."
An unwanted child. A brilliant genius.
Born in 1452 to a peasant woman and a country gentleman, Leonardo da Vinci was one of the most amazing people who ever lived. He grew up to be a great painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, and inventor.
As a boy, Leonardo was apprenticed to a famous artist. But he quickly became more skillful than his teacher, and his passionate interests went far beyond art. Fascinated with the human body, he carried out his own experiments in secret. He filled thousands of pages with plans for incredible inventions including a submarine, an air-cooling system, "glasses to see the moon large," and even a flying machine!
In this magnificent addition to a distinguished series that includes Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, and Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare, award-winning author-artist Diane Stanley blends wonderful storytelling with gorgeous illustrations to convey the
A 1996 ALA Notable Book
00-01 Land of Enchantment Book Award Masterlist (Gr. 3-6)
Card catalog description
A biography of the Italian Renaissance artist and inventor who, at about age thirty, began writing his famous notebooks which contain the outpourings of his amazing mind.
About the Author
Diane Stanley is the recipient of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children and the Washington Post-Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award for the body of her work. She is well known as the author and illustrator of an award-winning series of picture book biographies, most recently Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam. She has written three well-received novels, Bella at Midnight, The Mysterious Matter of I. M. Fine, and A Time Apart. Ms. Stanley has also written and illustrated numerous picture books, including three creatively reimagined fairy tales: The Giant and the Beanstalk, Goldie and the Three Bears, and Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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