The Mona Lisa Caper

The Mona Lisa Caper

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by Rick Jacobson, Laura Fernandez
     
 

The Mona Lisa Caper is based on true events that began to unfold on Monday, August 21, 1911, when Vincenzo Perugia shocked the world by stealing the most famous of the many treasures in the Louvre.

Though Vincenzo was a thief, he meant well. He simply wanted to return the painting to the Italian people in the mistaken belief that it had been stolen from

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Overview

The Mona Lisa Caper is based on true events that began to unfold on Monday, August 21, 1911, when Vincenzo Perugia shocked the world by stealing the most famous of the many treasures in the Louvre.

Though Vincenzo was a thief, he meant well. He simply wanted to return the painting to the Italian people in the mistaken belief that it had been stolen from them. Eventually, inevitably, Vincenzo was captured in Florence and put on trial. Italians gave him their hearts for his patriotism. In fact, he received so much food, wine, clothing, and furniture, that he had to be moved to a larger cell!

Throughout Rick Jacobson’s lively text, Mona Lisa herself narrates the story of her trip back to the city of her creation. The playful art Rick has painted along with his wife, Laura Fernandez, heightens the fun. Not only is it Keystone-Cops funny, it is a sound introduction to the painting that continues to delight, amaze, and mystify hundreds of years after Leonardo da Vinci’s death.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this captivating tale based on an actual incident in 1911, an Italian workman breaks the law to "save" the title painting. Although she cannot speak, Mona Lisa narrates the story of her unsuccessful abduction by Vincenzo Perugia. Believing that France's ownership of da Vinci's painting amounted to theft, Perugia vowed to bring her home to Italy. From Mona Lisa's point of view, Vincenzo is a friend, and the trip to Florence a vacation ("hanging on a wall year after year is not as easy as you might think"). The book is brief, but Jacobson's (Picasso: Soul on Fire) dense text brims with suspenseful details, and he humorously imagines how a painting might feel (describing their retreat through the Italian countryside, she says, "A playful gust of wind loosened my wrapping and suddenly I could see.... We rushed past trees and I recognized them. They mirrored the ones painted behind me"). In greens and golds, the artists depict the long shadows of the poplars at dawn, the tiny automobile containing Vincenzo and his treasure traveling between them. Readers learn in an informative afterword of Perugia's strange fate (far from tragic, thankfully) once his ruse is uncovered. Jacobson and Fernandez's beautifully drafted watercolors convey a sense of excitement while capturing many details of the era. Jacobson wisely resists the temptation to teach or preach in his unusual tale; he merely delights in the events, and readers will, too. Ages 5-7. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This is the second title published within a year to cover a subject previously untapped in picture books: the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci's iconic painting right from the wall of the Louvre. The first was J. Patrick Lewis's The Stolen Smile (Creative Co, 2004). This current title puts the story into the famous mouth of La Gioconda herself-a device that holds promise, but does not sustain interest throughout the lengthy narrative. The descriptions and emotions become somewhat repetitive, and more embellishment is required than in the earlier title. Fernandez and Jacobson incorporate the sfumato technique in their watercolor scenes in imitation of the master's signature style. Their soft-edge paintings and decorative cameos are atmospheric and appealing, and the original painting is reproduced in the final scene, accompanied by endnotes describing the image, artist, and thief. The look is quite different than the full bleeds and spreads employing the strong colors and tilted perspectives of a Cubist Paris in The Stolen Smile. Unfortunately, Mona Lisa consistently misspells the name of the thief (Vincenzo Peruggia) as "Perugia," and the director of the Ufizzi (Giovanni Poggi) as "Giovanne Poggie." Libraries with a comprehensive art collection may wish to own both titles; most will want to pass on this one.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887767265
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
06/28/2005
Pages:
24
Sales rank:
878,858
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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