The "Renaissance World" series showcases the lives of Europeans during a time of revival and renewal, which was patterned after ancient Greeks and Romans. For instance, learning Latin and Greek was necessary to study classical texts. These rich thirty-two-page books comprise an introductory series nicely formatted for youngsters that describe a vast "rebirth." Encompassing new ideas, different ways, and unconventional achievements brought more than temporary change to Europeans during a unique period of history. Effects of cultural transformations affected many at the time as shown by archival illustrations and museum artifacts, but also have become permanent features around the world today. "Renaissance men" such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Leon Battista Alberti, and Galileo Galilei are famous for profound contributions in numerous, diverse fields of study. Da Vinci was a prolific Italian painter as well as a brilliant scientist, inventor, engineer, and sculptor. He delved into mathematics, geology, philosophy, architecture, and botany, too. Perhaps less known are his extensive drawings that helped professionals understand human anatomy since he was among the first to dissect bodies of the dead. Galileo was also a good painter and lute player; Michelangelo wrote poetry. Battista was a poet, inventor, and archer. More knowledge meant gaining more respect. Thus, the idea of humanism spread an idea in contrast with only a few in the upper class having an elite status. In addition, it was believed that a person was able to change his (her) own nature and place in society through learning. The Renaissance spread more readily due to the Protestant Reformation and the printing press.For the first time education came to middle and lower classes through a variety of books. Strictly religious texts (for the elite exclusively) dominated less and less as more books on a variety of subjects became available. Every area of European life gradually changed. New ideas in medicine such as isolation of the sick helped prevent some spread of the bubonic plague, influenza, and leprosy. In astronomy, Copernicus concluded that planets traveled around the Sun, not the Earth as the Catholic Church declared. Innovations in architecture, literature, drama, warfare, music, commerce, and even the birth of ballet were greatly influenced by the European Renaissance period. Other topics in this lovely series include "Cities and Statecraft, Exploration, Painting, Religion, Science, Women" and "The Renaissance." Reviewer: Susan Treadway, M.Ed.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—These books are visually attractive with numerous color illustrations, art reproductions, and photos. They contain time lines (highly condensed), short bibliographies, indexes (limited to broad terms), and glossaries (inadequate and often more confusing than helpful). Regrettably, the information provided is rudimentary and frequently incomplete. There are a number of typos and errors, and the writing tends to be awkward and passive. The lack of maps is a serious detriment. The authors also assume familiarity with basic European history and Christianity. Andrew Langley's Da Vinci and His Times (DK, 2006), an "Eyewitness" book packed with detail, covers the entire era (despite its misleading title). Kathryn Hinds's The Church, part of the "Life in the Renaissance" series (Marshall Cavendish, 2003), does a better job with religious history and is more comprehensive than Flatt's book.—Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY