Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nonfiction: Leonardo da Vinci by Diane Stanley

1. Bibliographic data
Stanley, Diane. Leonardo da Vinci. William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1996.
ISBN: 0-688-10438-X

2. Brief plot summary
Leonardo da Vinci is a biography following da Vinci’s life from birth to death. Included are many of his most famous pieces of art as well as excerpts from his famous notebooks.

3. Critical analysis
This is a book for young and old alike. So many times books only focus on the actual pieces of art instead of what went into creating the art. In Leonardo da Vinci, Diane Stanley has looked at the man behind the canvas. Stanley has put together da Vinci’s life in a way that students can relate to. On the first page, students will see that da Vinci was not taught much past the basics in school, but he could create these beautiful pieces of art. The illustrations are set up to portray excerpts of his art within illustrations that Stanley has created. Included in different areas are also pieces of da Vinci’s infamous notebooks. In order to help students with some of the vocabulary, Stanley has included a pronunciation guide in the front. She also included a reference section at the end to lead students to more books about Leonardo da Vinci.

4. Review excerpts
a. Publisher’s Weekly: “ A virtuosic work.” (Starred review)
b. The New York Times Book Review: “A stunning account. A first class production in every way.”
c. ALA Booklst: “This is the best of the many children’s books on Leonardo.”
d. Awards:
A 1996 ALA Notable Book
A 1997 Boston Globe- Horn Book Honor Book for Nonfiction
A 1997 Orbis Pictus Award
A 1996 Publishers Weekly Best Books Award

5. Connections
a. Related books:
Leonardo da Vinci by Norman V. Marshall
What Makes a Leonardo a Leonardo? By Richard Muhlberger
A Weekend with Leonardo da Vinci by Rosabianca Skira-Venturi
b. Activities: This book could be used in an Art, Humanities, or Literature class. Specifically for Art, I would have students use this book to see the different directions an author can take, and let them decide which type they prefer from Leonardo. Diane Stanley has also written biographies on other artists from the Renaissance period, so students could compare and contrast the different artists of the time.

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