Leonardo da Vinci for Kids: His Life and Ideas

Book cover: 'Leonardo da Vinci for Kids: His Life and Ideas'
Janis Herbert
Chicago Review Press
Number of pages: 
92 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 

Leonardo da Vinci for Kids is a fascinating biography of a fascinating man with plenty of material to keep children and adults interested and amazed. The story details da Vinci's life, works, ideas and interests. His artistic and scientific creations and inventions cover an incredibly broad field - from his famous paintings to complex defense mechanisms for cities under siege to mechanical "creatures" to complex and artistically creative parties for important people of his day. The story is filled with fascinating details about his works, studies and ideas as well as many beautiful reproductions of his paintings and sketches. You'll find a resume that he wrote at the age of 30 for the ruler of Milan - offering his services as a military engineer! There are fascinating and sometimes humorous stories about how he prepared to design some of his greatest paintings, how he dealt with difficult clients and how some of his paintings were recovered centuries later.

Leonardo da Vinci has long been considered the paradigm "Renaissance Man". Through this book, he offers children a great example of enthusiastic love of life and learning. Readers will come away with a greater perspective on and respect for many important ideas: the importance and joy of learning, early advancements in science, general concepts of art and how to appreciate it, basic scientific concepts, ideas for using the imagination and memory, concepts in math relating to science, Renaissance life and much more.

I was impressed with the care the author took in relating so many interesting ideas in an accessible and engaging manner. I found difficult concepts handled graciously and respectfully - particularly for the intended age level. For example, the reader will learn that da Vinci's parents were never married and that this had consequences on his career choices. We learn that da Vinci dissected dead bodies at the morgue for the sake of artistic and scientific learning. At one point the Pope prohibits him from continuing this mode of study. Instead of being judgemental about these sorts of issues or dwelling on them inappropriately, they are explained in clear, simple terms as relevant parts of the story, but without any extra nonsense.

This would make an excellent "spine" text for a study of the Renaissance. In addition to the text and side bars, there are 21 activities relating in various ways to da Vinci's life. They span a wide range: baking, drawing, math, science, painting, observing, language and more. The book is best for independent reading in 6th grade and up. It could be read-aloud to younger children. Most of the activities are suitable for any school-age children.

Enthusiastically recommended!

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Donated for review by Chicago Review Press

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