Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer
Byrd, Robert. 2003. LEONARDO: BEAUTIFUL DREAMER. New York: Dutton Children’s Books. ISBN 0525470336 [Suggested Grade Levels 3 through 8]
This book is stuffed with fascinating information on Leonardo da Vinci, a true “Renaissance Man” among many men of the Renaissance. The introduction intrigues the reader and makes him want to learn more about this extraordinary thinker who thrived on the learning and understanding of complicated concepts such as how birds fly, how blood moves through the human body and how to make a painting “alive with emotion, reality, mystery.”
Beginning in the Italian countryside where Leonardo grew up as an inquisitive young man, the tale progresses to the city of Florence, where his artistic training began and his other interests began to blossom. Readers will be amazed at the scope of Leonardo’s curiosity, especially as depicted in the section about his “Fantastic Notebooks”: over 13,000 pages (more than half now lost, tragically) of notes and drawings on subjects as diverse as physics, theater, military, botany, anatomy, philology, music, astronomy and architecture. This clearly illustrates the breadth and depth of Leonardo’s intelligence and interests.
This work is crammed with details, such as the numerous sidebars, which contain anecdotes and information to further flesh out Leonardo’s story and time period for readers who want to know more. The timeline at the end of the book is extremely detailed and would be a very good research tool for a student writing a biography paper. Overall, this book is a bounty of information, overflowing with facts and almost overwhelming in its scope. It is complimented by rich, detailed artwork, which reflects Leonardo’s time period and his own work.
In conjunction with reading this book, children could look at books of Leonardo’s art as well as that of his contemporaries, including his great rival Michaelangelo. A video or slide show of these works could be procured for a multimedia presentation.
Cole, Alison. EYEWITNESS: RENAISSANCE. ISBN 078945582X
Cook, Diane. MICHAELANGELO: RENAISSANCE ARTIST. ISBN 1590841565
Corrain, Lucia. THE ART OF THE RENAISSANCE. ISBN 0872265269
Romei, Francesca. LEONARDO DA VINCI: ARTIST, INVENTOR AND SCIENTIST OF THE RENAISSANCE. ISBN 0872263134
By Shannon McGregor