Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Leonardo Beautiful Dreamer

Leonardo Beautiful Dreamer

Robert Byrd
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 and up
Dutton’s Children’s Books, 2003   ISBN: 978-0525470335

From a very early age, Leonardo da Vinci learned by observing things around him. He taught himself how to swim by watching the frogs in the pools and streams near the village were he grew up. It was by asking himself lots of questions, by seeking the answers, and by always wanting to learn and to discover that Leonardo became one of the world’s most extraordinarily brilliant, understanding and gifted people. There seems to be very little that Leonardo da Vinci did not study or write about, that he did not question or wonder at. He created paintings and statutes, designed buildings, invented machines, dissected, studied and drew human and animal bodies, and told delightful and entertaining stories. Perhaps best of all is that he never stopped wondering and questioning. He did not seem to think that one grew too old to learn something new.

The author has managed to convey the admiration and respect that he feels for da Vinci, and in turn shows us the genius that lay at the heart of the great man. In what must have been a monumental task, he sifted through an enormous amount of material, and took from it descriptions of certain events in Leonardo’s life which best illustrated the great man’s exceptional personality and remarkable intelligence. We are given a fully rounded and complex picture of Leonardo the boy, the man, the artist, the inventor, and also are given an in-depth and colorful picture of what Leonardo’s world must have been like during his lifetime.

In addition to the text itself, Robert Byrd’s incredibly detailed and very beautiful illustrations provide a wealth of information in themselves. In addition, the illustrations are often annotated and throughout the book the reader will find Leonard’s own words in quotation form. Robert Byrd has truly honored Leonardo da Vinci through his labors. At the back of the book the reader will find an author’s note, a timeline, and a bibliography.