Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer
by Robert Byrd
by Robert Byrd
2003. Dutton Books for Young Readers
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was a famous Italian intellectual who lived during the Renaissance.
This comprehensive text covers everything a young reader could ever want to know about Leonardo da Vinci. Framed as a story about a man who thrived on the "hard parts" of things, the book starts with his childhood and moves through his apprenticeship to Verocchio in Florence, the painting of "The Last Supper" and creation of his famous notebooks during his time at the Court of Ludovico in Milan, the painting of "The Mona Lisa" in Venice, and Leonardo's return to Milan under the patronage of Giuliano de Medici. Context is provided on every page, in informational text boxes printed in small bold font, while the text proper is more of a story narrative. The book concludes with Leonardo's death.
About the Illustrations
The pictures in this book are richly detailed, and there is much to study and analyze on each page. The images help to explain and illuminate complex ideas, and they include many quotations from Leonardo's writings. (These also appear in abundance on the end papers.) The illustrations not only evoke the time period; they also make Leonardo da Vinci's work accessible to those who have no prior exposure to his art or ideas.
The author's note at the end of the book is brief, probably because there are so many detailed notes throughout the main text which provide historical context, scientific information, and brief sketches of key figures. There is also a timeline at the back of the book which condenses the major events of Leonardo's life down to a page and a half and also includes relevant events that took place following Leonardo's death. Finally, a bibliography provides resources for learning more about Leonardo, with a special section for children's and YA titles.
This is just a phenomenal book, which can easily appeal to a wide range of ages. The text includes everything kids and young teens need to know to be conversant about Leonardo da Vinci, and undoubtedly, the information provided in this book will make them eager to learn more about many different things, including art, science, math, and history. This is a book to own and spend time with, and one to which kids can return again and again throughout their school years.