Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Diane Stanley
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
HarperCollins, 2000   ISBN: 978-0688150853

The young Michelangelo Buonarroti, the son of a genteel but hard-up gentleman from Florence, spent some of his childhood years living with a community of stonecutters. He certainly got his first experience cutting stone when he lived with these simple people and one can imagine that it was at this time that he first began to appreciate the joy of working with his hands. His father was appalled when Michelangelo later explained that he wanted to be apprenticed to a famous Florentine painter. Michelangelo's father wanted his son to grow up to be a gentleman and not a craftsman and yet Michelangelo refused to give up on his dream and his father finally permitted his son to become the painter's apprentice.

Michelangelo was then asked to join a special sculptor's school which Lorenzo de'Medici had founded. So impressed was Lorenzo by Michelangelo's obvious talent that he invited the boy to join his own family. Unfortunately this happy state of affairs did not last long because Lorenzo died and Michelangelo had to return to his family home. The time had come for him to have to make a living for himself, and incidentally for his entire family.

Thus it was that Michelangelo began to make sculptures, frescos and other works of art for various famous people, works of art that would make him famous throughout the Renaissance world. There is the Pieta which he made for a French cardinal; the statue of David which he made for the city of Florence; the ceiling of the Sistine chapel which he painted for one the popes of Rome; and he helped design the new Cathedral of St Peter in Rome for another of the popes. The fact that Michelangelo created works in all three of the major arts – painting, sculpture, and architecture, was one of the things that set him apart from other artists.

The author of this wonderful biography not only describes the life of this extraordinary man but she also describes the political and cultural upheavals that took place at this time and place in history and that shook the lives of the Italian peoples. She also describes and explains the paintings and sculptures that Michelangelo created.

The artwork in the book is unique because the artist has depicted scenes from Michelangelo's life using a style which is very much like that used in paintings of the times. She has also incorporated photographs of Michelangelo's works into the artwork which adds a very interesting dimension to the book.