Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Leonardo da Vinci: The Genius who Defined the Renaissance

Leonardo da Vinci: The Genius who Defined the Renaissance

John Phillips
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
National Geographic, 2006   ISBN: 978-0792253853

Leonardo da Vinci was the illegitimate son of a lawyer who lived in the little town of Vinci in Italy. Being illegitimate meant that Leonardo frequently had to deal with and accept a lesser status in life. Had his parents been married Leonardo would have been sent to university and would have no doubt followed in his father's footsteps. Luckily for us all, Leonardo's father arranged for his son to be apprenticed to an artist who lived in the town of Florence.

Leonardo learned a great deal from his master. Not only did he get an excellent art education, but he also was taught how to study and observe the world around him. Later in life these abilities would prove to be very valuable for Leonardo had a wide variety of interests besides his artistic endeavors including anatomy, physics, architecture, and engineering. Over the years Leonardo studied these subjects with great energy, noting down his observations in a series of notebooks some of which have survived to the present day.

In this excellent biography the author not only describes Leonardo da Vinci's life, but he also describes his times. Readers will discover how unstable life was in the late 1400's and early 1500's and that it was not easy being a man who thought 'outside the box.' Leonardo da Vinci was the first person to do and think many things and in some ways he was the father of the modern scientific process of study. For him it was not enough to come up with an idea; he had to test, study, and if possible observe the process as well.

In addition to the well written text, readers of this book will find annotated photographs, reproductions of artworks, quotes, a timeline, and much more.