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Leonardo da Vinci Paperback – August 22, 2000

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 6
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (August 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688161553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688161552
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 9 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Older children will certainly appreciate the wealth of information in this complete and fascinating biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Illustrated in an Old Masters style, the book follows the life of da Vinci from birth to death and gives a detailed account of his extraordinary achievements, not only in his painting but also as an engineer, scientist, and inventor who is centuries ahead of his time. The treatment of da Vinci's famous notebooks usefully conveys the power of the man's imagination. His practice of writing in a backward script from right to left, requiring a mirror to decipher it, will intrigue children. (The dust jacket bears such lettering on the back, which should immediately prompt a run to the bathroom mirror.) An accomplished and engaging biography for children. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Adding this Renaissance genius to the illustrious lineup of individuals whose lives she and Peter Vennema have chronicled, among them Cleopatra, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, Stanley produces her most stunning pictorial biography to date. Drawing from a range of sources, including her subject's extensive notebooks, Stanley's conversational narrative describes Leonardo da Vinci's astoundingly far-reaching and varied achievements. Young readers will come to appreciate both da Vinci's universally renowned accomplishments as a painter and the breadth of his scientific experimentation and research. While her text is thoroughly intriguing, even more impressive is the artistic challenge Stanley takes on and triumphantly meets: her paintings not only portray the period particulars and likenesses of da Vinci, his patrons and colleagues, but successfully incorporate, in seamless collages, miniature reproductions of such celebrated masterpieces as The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. These exquisite reproductions, as well as sepia-toned spot art taken from da Vinci's notebooks, sit uncommonly well within Stanley's own paintings, educating the reader about da Vinci's masterpieces as a natural part of the visual storytelling. A virtuosic work. Ages 7-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Diane Stanley is the author and illustrator of more than fifty books for children, noted especially for her series of picture book biographies. SHAKA: KING OF THE ZULUS was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; LEONARDO DA VINCI received the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction from the National Council for Teachers of English. Ten of her books have been honored as "Notable Books" by the American Library Association and she has twice received both the Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Golden Kite Award. She is the recipient of the Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction for the body of her work.

She lives in Santa Fe, NM. Visit her website at

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I recently used this book in a class project.
Bobbi L. Starwalt
Stanley provides an excellent introduction to the life of the original Renaissance Man.
Lawrance M. Bernabo
This book presents very complete information, in a very readable way.
M. Heiss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on March 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
Meet Leonardo da Vinci, a man of vision who was centuries ahead of his time. Born April 15, 1452, and raised in his father's house, Leonardo was the illegitimate son of Ser Piero, " important man, a leading citizen of Vinci." and a peasant girl. Because of the circumstances of his birth, he was not entitled to an upper class education in banking, medicine, or law, and "what little schooling he got probably came from the parish priest and was limited to reading, writing, and simple arithmetic. He later described himself as an omo sanza lettere, a man without education." As a boy, Leonardo showed talent for drawing, and was sent to Florence to apprentice with the famous artist, Andrea del Verrocchio. And it was there that the course of his life began to take shape. Though his superb artistic talents were quickly recognized, and Leonardo was commissioned to paint many important works during his lifetime, he had a short attention span and was always restless, often failing to complete his pieces. His imagination, his interests and genius went far beyond art and painting. He was fascinated with anatomy, engineering, science, and music, and filled thousands of pages in his now famous notebooks with his ideas, plans, drawings and inventions. He was employed by kings, princes and popes, and was the friend of Machiavelli, Cesar Borgia and King Francis I, of France. But throughout his life he never married, and was a very solitary man..... Diane Stanley brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this beautifully written and well researched, introductory biography. Her easy to read, conversational text is entertaining, engaging and intelligent, and packed full of history, drama, mystery, fun facts, anecdotes, and sketches from Leonardo's notebooks.Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
Leonardo Da Vinci is, in many ways, the perfect subject for a children's biography. Above and beyond his myriad of accomplishments (scientist, inventor, artist) his life is one of adventure and interest. The illegitimate son of a leading man of Vinci, Leonardo went into the artistic life precisely because he was considered too base for a, "noble profession".

This book is a combination of good artistry and confounding problems. On the one hand, Stanley has drawn beautiful accompanying pictures for each point in Leonardo's life. On the other hand, these pictures sometimes take liberties with the few details of the artist's life we know of. When the text states that Leonardo, "found a loving friend in his young uncle Francesco", the accompanying picture shows the boy piggyback on his uncle. It would be nice if such facts were given appropriate footnotes, but all sources are listed in the end of the book without any references to pages. Also, the aging of Leonardo is a little haphazard. One moment he's a young man writing a letter. The next moment he's bearded and about to slice up a corpse. The Duchy of Milan is described as having black hair and dark skin, but appears to be more of a slightly tan Italian. These are tiny details, but they distract from an otherwise interesting text.
Undoubtedly, the actual drawings and sketches Leonardo made in his lifetime are some of the best parts of this book. It would have been nice if Stanley had included more of them in the story. Leonardo's paintings are nicely presented, but they're usually seen from a distance. At no point do we get a detailed and close look at any art that Leonardo created. Finally, a timeline would have been helpful in this story, but it has not been included.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The cover of this excellent juvenile biography of Leonardo Da Vinci is quite interesting because it shows him as a young man in front of the background from his most famous painting, the "Mona Lisa." I saw a story once that compared the face of the "Mona Lisa" with the famous red ink drawing of Da Vinci as an old man, which did size comparisons and argued they were the same. In other words, the "Mona Lisa" is really a self-portrait of Da Vinci. This makes a bit of sense since the artist worked on it for years, obviously with the benefit of a model. Diane Stanley's cover painting, intentionally or not, references this intriguing hypothesis.
Stanley does some fascinating things with the art throughout this book. She puts reproductions of Da Vinci's actual paintings into her own works and includes various drawings by Da Vinci to complement her text. Young readers will learn about the highlights of Da Vinci's life, both as an artist and as an inventor. Consequently, they will see not only the painting of "The Last Supper" but the flying machine he designed. In a fascinating postscript Stanley details what happened to the grave of Da Vinci and what few of his paintings remain. Stanley provides an excellent introduction to the life of the original Renaissance Man.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "dab_68" on April 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
For those who do not yet know, Diane Stanley writes the best kid-level biographies out there, and Leonardo da Vinci is no exception. She carefully traces his life from birth (including alluding to the legitamacy question) to death. Worked into the illustrations are many of Leonardo's works (so that you needn't buy a separate book for your child to appreciate them). A wonderful book that should be mandatory reading!
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