Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

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by Diane Stanley

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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

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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
A 1997 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book for Nonfiction
A 1997 Orbis Pictus Award
A 1996 Publishers Weekly Best Books Award

00-01 Land of Enchantment Book Award Masterlist (Gr. 3-6)

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
A stunning account. A first class production in every way.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Armin A. Brott
For a guy who started off as the illegitimate son of a peasant woman and a country nobleman, Leonardo da Vinci ended up doing all right for himself. At a young age, he painted an angel that was so far superior to what his teacher, Varrocchio, was painting, that the teacher never picked up a paintbrush again. And by the time he died, surrounded by friends and admirers, he had created some of the most spectacular and remarkable works of art the world has ever seen. Combining engaging story-telling with remarkable illustrations, author/artist Diane Stanley has herself created a fascinating, educational work that even the master himself would have been proud of.
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
Author/artist Diane Stanley presents a lifelike Leonardo Da Vinci from birth to his death at age 67 in 1519. Born out of wedlock in a village near Florence, Italy, Leonardo was unable to enter either the University of Florence or one of the "noble" professions such as medicine or law. He was apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio who quickly recognized his artistic genius. Indeed, it is alleged that once Verrocchio realized Leonardo was superior to himself, he never again painted. It is the depth of her research that distinguishes Ms. Stanley's book. She read many volumes-some of them listed in her fine bibliography, and she traveled to Italy for further insights. Somehow she uncovered information to debunk the generally-held belief that Leonardo's backward writing was intended to discourage snoopers; she says he wrote that way because he was left-handed and found it convenient. Ms. Stanley's work as both biography and literature is about as good as it gets.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7Using 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
Kirkus Reviews
He might be called an eccentric and a dreamer. Stanley (Eléna, 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.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Reprint Edition
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.00(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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