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Mona Lisa(What in the World? Series)

Mona Lisa(What in the World? Series)

by Jill Kalz

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In conjunction with Creative's The Stolen Smile (from which several of Gary Kelley's illustrations are borrowed), this book is part of the "What in the World" series that examines the Renaissance through Da Vinci and his most famous painting. The strategy of the series is interesting: wrap the entire world's existing culture at one particular moment in time around an extraordinary focal point. A discussion of The Mona Lisa itself thus encompasses brief explorations into Greek and Roman "Humanism," voyages of discovery, and highlights of the Florentine Renaissance—not to mention a biographical discussion of Leonardo himself within his period. It is a formidable task, but Kalz's text flows from one concept to another fairly seamlessly. The illustrations are generally well-chosen and brilliantly reproduced on glossy stock with a handsome library binding. The book is worthy of adding to buy lists for middle school libraries. 2004, Creative Education, Ages 8 to 12.
—Kathleen Karr
These two volumes show the range of what is possible in a series where authors attempt to set important creations in historical context. A very brief, half-page description of the invention is followed by a ten-page chapter titled "In the World" in The Light Bulb, with little textual transition between the brief introduction and this chapter. After telling readers that Edison began work on the light bulb in the 1870s, the author jumps in rapid succession to railways, immigration, the telegraph, Argentina's golden age, the birth of artists Paul Klee and Kazimir Malevich, London's economic woes, and the "Scramble for Africa." At the very end of the last page, the importance of light is mentioned, but readers could not be blamed for feeling lost and frequently looking at the cover to reassure themselves that they are still reading the same book. In contrast, The Mona Lisa begins with the history of the Renaissance and goes on to describe artistic and technological environments in Africa, America, and Asia. Although setting a similar environment to The Light Bulb, this chapter is less confusing, for it refers to Leonardo da Vinci and art more frequently, keeping the reader aware of the ties to its main subject, the Mona Lisa. Next comes a biographical chapter, detailing the life of the discoverer. Again The Light Bulb is far ranging, beginning with Edison's birth and not mentioning light in the main text for another ten pages. The Mona Lisa takes as long with da Vinci's biography, but the constant references to art seem more tied to the eventual painting than do the social and scientific biography of Edison to his invention of the light bulb. Finally on page 32 ofeach volume, readers reach the history of the title creation itself. Many illustrations decorate each volume, ranging from a photo of the first light bulb to German advertisements, and from the Portrait of Ginevra de'Benci to the Mona Lisa orchid. The reprints of classic art are beautiful, but the illustrations leave something to be desired. The text is very small for the amount of content in the books and may be difficult for younger readers. The illustrations and colorful covers of these thin books may put off older readers. This series seems to be highly variable. If at all possible, physically examine the books before purchasing. (What in the World?). VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2005, Creative Education, 48p.; Index. Illus. Photos. Chronology., PLB . Ages 11 to 14.
—Beth Karpas

Product Details

Creative Company, The
Publication date:
What in the World? Series
Product dimensions:
8.56(w) x 11.28(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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