Who Stole Mona Lisa?

Overview

.She has a legendary smile, and millions come to see her every day. Some say she is the most famous painting in the world. Who is she? Why, the Mona Lisa, of course! But did you know that she was once stolen from her wall at the Louvre? Who took her? Why? Where was she hidden? How was she found? Someone call the police!

Narrated by the lady of the enigmatic smile herself—and brought to life with gorgeous paintings that take the reader from da Vinci's renaissance right up to the present day—this is a stylishly ...

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Overview

.She has a legendary smile, and millions come to see her every day. Some say she is the most famous painting in the world. Who is she? Why, the Mona Lisa, of course! But did you know that she was once stolen from her wall at the Louvre? Who took her? Why? Where was she hidden? How was she found? Someone call the police!

Narrated by the lady of the enigmatic smile herself—and brought to life with gorgeous paintings that take the reader from da Vinci's renaissance right up to the present day—this is a stylishly whimsical account of the glorious, wonderful, sometimes dangerous life of the best recognized painting of all time. Discover the secrets behind her mysterious smile, and hear for yourself the amazing true story of her kidnapping.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
The painting of Mona Lisa tells this story. From people staring and a guide lecturing in the museum, we flashback to the time when Leonardo da Vinci painted Lisa Gherardini. He was in love with her. The painting was famous because the artist was famous. The painting passed from hand to hand until Napoleon gave it to the Louvre. The painting tells how on one hot August night a man with a mustache who was wearing a white workman's smock "ripped me off the wall." The next day, people searched everywhere. A reward was offered. People came and looked at the empty space in the museum. The man with the moustache looked at me all the time. When he heard the police searching nearby, he stuck me under the stove. He took me to Italy and tried to sell me there. He was arrested and sent to jail. Then, our narrator says, "I was returned to my wall at the museum." The author's note explains that "[t]he Mona Lisa was stolen in August 1911 by Vincenzo Perugia." He said he wanted to return her to Italy where she was painted. The stylized colorful pictures carry out the tongue-in-cheek humor. Children will enjoy this history of the Mona Lisa. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
Kirkus Reviews

This inventive book's $20,000 Pyramid category would be "What Mona Lisa Might Say." Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa closely observes the people who come to see her in the Louvre: "People with up hair. People with down hair." She hears the guide ask, "Is it a growing smile or a knowing smile? A shy smile or a sly smile?" and can even smell garlic on museum-goers' breath. One fateful night in August 1911, she hears footsteps. Someone rips her framed self right off the wall. ("Ouch!") Her Italian thief adores her, but he stows her under his stove for safekeeping: "Now, instead of crowds, I saw cobwebs. / Instead of admirers, ants." The engaging, rhythmic-but-not-rhyming text fuses deliciously with McElmurry's marvelous artwork--its flat, decorative style, skewed head angles, strong lines and rich gouache colors echo both illuminated manuscripts and the Sienese school of painting. Mona Lisa's ever-changing expressions and comical details (such as a Maine fisherman with his lobster at the Louvre) are priceless. Ornamental borders and an occasional cartoon bubble contribute to the arresting design. A gem. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Judging by the interest from children's authors, the theft of the Renaissance masterpiece is as intriguing as the woman's elusive smile. Patrick Lewis's The Stolen Smile (Creative, 2004) is told from the thief's viewpoint, and the art has a Cubist flavor. Meghan McCarthy's Steal Back the Mona Lisa (Harcourt, 2006) is a cartoon version with a child detective. Knapp, like Rick Jacobson in The Mona Lisa Caper (Tundra, 2005), presents the mysterious woman's perspective. In contrast to Jacobson's somewhat lengthy text, Knapp employs the cadences of a storyteller. Short sentences gain momentum from internal rhymes, repeated opening phrases, and humorous details. Beginning with da Vinci's approach to the portrait sitter's plight, a museum guide quips: "If she scratched, he asked if she had ants in her pants! When Mona was moody, he hired musicians and clowns to amuse her." McElmurry's gouache scenes are lively and varied. The framing story features contemporary museum-goers listening intently to the commentary; set against a white background, every head tilts horizontally toward the painting. The main narrative involves the history of the piece, from creation through its theft and restoration. The cooler introductory palette becomes warmer, harmonizing with the predominance of terra cotta against parchment backgrounds; stylized costumes provide pattern through their vertical folds. Roundels and lunettes frame and reveal interior actions against backdrops of buildings and maps. The titular question is answered in more detail in an author's note, but the fun is in imagining, with the author, what Mona Lisa can see, smell, feel, and hear throughout five centuries of observation.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599900582
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 700,182
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

RUTHIE KNAPP is the author of the Off the Wall Museum Guide for Kids series. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

JILL McELMURRY was born in California and grew up in New Mexico. When she's not producing books such as Mad About Plaid and I'm Not a Baby!, Jill enjoys working with her husband and dog on their farm.

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