Mona Lisa: The Secret of the Smile

Mona Lisa: The Secret of the Smile

by Letizia Galli
     
 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Galli's pictorially imaginative biography of da Vinci, while visually appealing, produces a somewhat distant Leonardo, especially when compared to the vibrant young Michelangelo of Laura Fischetto's Michael the Angel, which Galli illustrated. Highly theatrical, her stylized, disjointed figures and skewed, multi-perspective architectural settings invoke a kind of controlled anarchy; outsized heads popping out of roofless buildings and freefloating geometric shapes add a touch of surrealism, while a subtle marbling of the colors keeps the ambience firmly antique. The artist himself appears as the calm center of this kaleidoscopic world, following his intellectual and artistic interests with supreme confidence and focus, and leaving unfinished projects behind without regret. Recurring visual elements-Mona Lisa's face glimpsed in the crowd, disembodied horse's heads-provide a continuity missing from the text, which oscillates between fleshed-out narrative and poetic musing. Details of the artist's life are included in an afterword, but, despite the subtitle, the mystery of the Mona Lisa's smile remains unsolved.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Galli's pictorially imaginative biography of da Vinci, while visually appealing, produces a somewhat distant Leonardo, especially when compared to the vibrant young Michelangelo of Laura Fischetto's Michael the Angel, which Galli illustrated. Highly theatrical, her stylized, disjointed figures and skewed, multi-perspective architectural settings invoke a kind of controlled anarchy; outsized heads popping out of roofless buildings and freefloating geometric shapes add a touch of surrealism, while a subtle marbling of the colors keeps the ambience firmly antique. The artist himself appears as the calm center of this kaleidoscopic world, following his intellectual and artistic interests with supreme confidence and focus, and leaving unfinished projects behind without regret. Recurring visual elements-Mona Lisa's face glimpsed in the crowd, disembodied horse's heads-provide a continuity missing from the text, which oscillates between fleshed-out narrative and poetic musing. Details of the artist's life are included in an afterword, but, despite the subtitle, the mystery of the Mona Lisa's smile remains unsolved. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-In this picture-book biography, Leonardo da Vinci inhabits a world of post-modern perspectives and surreal, childlike people. The master himself is realistically portrayed as he goes about inventing, painting, and writing. Surrounded by shapes, forms, and faces representing the cities he visited and the people whose commissions he undertook, the artist rushes from project to project. The pastel colors and chalklike textures of the illustrations convey an abstract but eye-catching atmosphere of energy and creativity, attempting to express the excitement and vigor of the Renaissance and its most famous figure. To some extent, the book succeeds in capturing young readers' interest and introducing them to the great artist. However, the title is misleading, for Leonardo does not paint the Mona Lisa until the penultimate page, and even then there is no secret revealed about the famous smile, beyond the fact that he says " `I'm going to paint exactly what I see.' " After the pastel hues of Galli's art, the reproduction of the actual painting on the last page shatters the illusion of a magical world inhabited by a master magician and interjects the real world of art history. Galli offers a unique approach to Renaissance art, but fails to challenge the clever paper engineering and artful re-creations of Leonardo's works in Alice and Martin Provensen's Leonardo da Vinci (Viking, 1984).-Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
In a work subtitled "The Secret of the Smile," readers learn a lot about Leonardo da Vinci, but little about his painting of the woman called Mona Lisa.

Leonardo, as he is generally known, "represents the spirit of the Renaissance"; this book explains to young readers his diverse talents. Even as a child, he puzzled his teachers with his many questions and with his unusual backwards writing. Galli presents Leonardo as an approachable, somewhat eccentric figure, one who delighted in masterminding extravagant festivals and designed his own clothing for comfort instead of style. Mona Lisa makes her entrance in the last three pages; she had a "magical smile," and so Leonardo did what "had never been done before—he painted what he saw." That message may be too enigmatic for the picture-book audience, but they'll like the odd perspectives found in the soft, pastel-flecked illustrations, which mimic the hues of Renaissance fresco painting and, along with the pictures' humorous bent, give the work an airy quality. Some additional facts are provided at the end, but no specific references are cited.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385321082
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
02/01/1996
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 10.91(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >