Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Agrimbau, Diego. Leonardo Da Vinci.

Agrimbau, Diego. Leonardo Da Vinci. Calkins Creek (Boyd's Mills)  2018  112p.  $31.99           ISBN 978-1-5157-9163-8            elem/ms       Graphic Nonfiction           VG-BNS       

This title calls itself an unofficial biography.  In graphic-novel format, it takes Leonardo from childhood through his life.  He serves as an apprentice to Verrocchio but he dreams of creating his own paintings. He uses cadavers to study anatomy.  As his sponsors change, he moves from Florence to Milan to Venice and back to Florence.  His technique and his search for perfection cause him to spend years on an individual painting.  His disappointments as well as his achievements are discussed.

This story is written as if Leonardo is talking about his life to his apprentice Salai.  This conceit allows the story to proceed forward and backwards in time, rather than following a straight line of progression.  Leonardo expressed his regrets over unfinished works and failed projects.

The illustrations are integral to the story.  It is easy to follow the action, and the drawings clearly show the story. The choice of colors evokes a pensive mood, or at the least, a mood of times past.  The text is clear, with good contrast to the background.  The book also includes a timeline, some historic background, a glossary, discussion questions and writing prompts.  The discussion of  the portrayal of Leonardo in movies mostly addresses the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is superfluous.  The index is rudimentary, as are the suggestions for reading more about Leonardo. 
This title gives readers a general outline of the life of Leonardo da Vinci in a readily accessible format.  Reluctant readers are more likely to pick up a graphic novel than a wordy tome.  The information is presented in sufficient detail to give a good picture of his life.  Grades 4-8.           

The series is Encounter: Narrative Nonfiction Stories, and within it the subseries is Graphic Lives.  It includes four titles: Anne Frank, Nelson Mandela, Pope Francis and Leonardo da Vinci.  They are good introductory biographies for grades 4-8.      

Summary: Graphic biography of Leonardo da Vinci that describes his development from an apprentice to a master painter and sculptor and also covers some of his many other interests in science and engineering.  Grades 4-8.      

Leonardo da Vinci, Biography                              --Joan Theal

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