Booklist Reviews

Gr. 4-6. This vision of da Vinci's life, work, and dreams is a celebration of the Renaissance artist's genius. The large-size format with bordered spreads and a variety of framed insets was inspired by the style of Leonardo's own distinctive notebooks, and it incorporates many quotes. Spread captions allow spot reading, but their tiny print demands concentration. The detailed pen-and-colored-ink illustrations create layers of information juxtaposing facts and anecdotes. Diane Stanley's Leonardo da Vinci (1996) presents the time period in an elegant, graceful style, while Byrd saturates his scenes with images to suggest da Vinci's mind overflowing with ideas and questions. The extensive back matter (some in even smaller print) includes an author's note, a lengthy time line, a bibliography that includes Web sites, and sources for the illustrations. Effective book design is carried out even to the endpapers, which are patterned with quotes in tiny simulated handwriting. An impressive tribute to a man whose curiosity and artistic imagination amazed the world, then and now. ((Reviewed August 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

Horn Book Guide Reviews

An oversize volume crowded with ByrdÆs intricate art, a thoughtful text, and sidebars mimics the style of LeonardoÆs famous notebooks. The basic facts about his life are woven throughout, but the real emphasis is on his work--his paintings, his anatomy studies, his scientific inventions--making this less a complete biography than a celebration of his inquiring spirit and creative vision. A timeline is included. Bib. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Leonardo da Vinci was the original "Renaissance man," passionately interested in painting, sculpture, architecture, science, and technology. All these facets of his genius are explored in this oversize volume, crowded with intricate art, a thoughtful text, sidebars, and information boxes. Rather than giving the book a busy, fragmentary quality, the layout reflects Leonardo's far-ranging enthusiasms and mimics the style of his famous notebooks in which "words and images are crammed together, wasting as little space as possible." Thus the double-page spread about the creation of The Last Supper features not only an explanation of how it came to be painted and an illustration of Leonardo standing before his masterpiece but also information boxes describing his painting techniques, his use of perspective, and his working habits; illustrated borders organize the presentation and prevent the lavish design from becoming chaotic. Perhaps inspired by his subject, Byrd creates some finely detailed tableaux, brimming with content, color, and, in his depictions of human figures, a hint of caricature. The basic facts about Leonardo's life are woven throughout, but the real emphasis is on his work--his paintings, his anatomy studies, his designs for bikes and clocks and flying machines--making this less a complete biography than a celebration of his inquiring spirit and creative vision. An author's note, historical timeline, and bibliography are included. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

As thorough an exploration of Leonardo's achievements as can be wrought in picture-book format, this offering takes every opportunity to give the original Renaissance Man his own voice. From endpapers that reproduce Leonardo's notes in a typeface inspired by his script to frequent quotations from same, the text works to efface the time and space that separate reader from subject. Pages are crowded with vibrant line-and-watercolor, often cartoony, vignettes separated by tiny patterned borders. In this way is the narrative of Leonardo's life advanced side-by-side with smaller explorations of his many projects. The effect mimics that of Leonardo's cluttered notebooks, where notes, drawings, and shopping lists fought for space on the page; the major difference is that the pages of this work by and large tackle their subject's many projects thematically, one spread devoted to his horse, another devoted to his efforts at flight, etc. Byrd's presentation is above all collegial, consistently working to inspire readers rather than to awe them. His twin regards for subject and reader make this offering a winner. (author's note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

Library Media Connection

A picture book for older readers, this biography of Leonardo da Vinci will fascinate any student interested in art, science, history, or the Renaissance. A helpful introduction explains the importance of the man and how his unique mind worked and flourished during a remarkable time in world history. The format is chronological from birth to death, but is structured topically when da Vinci is an adult. Two-page spreads discuss and illustrate the many intellectual facets of the man from "The Vault of Heaven" in which readers find that Leonardo devised a method of viewing an eclipse without endangering the eye, declared the sun the center of the universe, and realized that the moon has reflected light, to "The Eternal Birdman" in which his excitement that man might actually fly and his inventions toward that end are told. When information is not known or proven, the author is careful to make his suppositions clear. Smaller boxes placed around the page carry quotations, proverbs, bits of wisdom, and interesting tidbits about the subject. Illustrations of da Vinci's life are two-page spreads with smaller, separate illustrations accompanying the fact boxes. Detailed illustrations and sophisticated vocabulary and thought concepts will delight the browser, while the detailed timeline and excellent bibliography including primary sources will be useful to the researcher. Recommended. Becky B. Stephens, Library Media Specialist, Hearn Elementary, Frankfort, Kentucky © 2004 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Byrd (Finn McCoul and His Fearless Wife) notes that the French king Francis I once said he did not believe "that any other mind had ever been born into the world who knew so much as Leonardo." Few could disagree after reading this staggeringly thorough-and eminently readable-picture-book compendium of Leonardo da Vinci's prescient insights and inventions. Strategically organized, illustrated with intricately informative art, Byrd's titled spreads-such as "The Smiling Lady" (about the Mona Lisa) and "Muscle and Marvelous Machines"-provide self-contained, almost encyclopedic coverage of Leonardo's life and work. Although the main narrative runs long, sidebars packed with well-chosen anecdotes, quotations and small panel illustrations should hold those with shorter attention spans. Byrd explains Leonardo's theories clearly and simply, while also revealing the man behind them. Readers will enjoy hints of Leonardo's roguishness: he described Michelangelo's sculptures as "bags of nuts" and he would inflate a sheep's intestine with a bellows "until it filled the room like a giant balloon and flattened people against the walls." The skillful use of color schemes, patterned borders and typefaces tames the flow of ideas, and vigorous, lighthearted ink-and-watercolor illustrations both reflect Leonardo's vitality and intelligently explicate his countless inventions. Whether readers absorb this handsomely oversize book from cover to cover or a just few sidebars at a time, they will almost certainly find exquisite inspiration. Ages 7-10. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3-8-A gorgeous biography suitable for group sharing or for independent reading. The brilliant, full-page ink-and-watercolor paintings characterize da Vinci's life in a cartoonlike manner. The animated artwork and lively text that brings together facts and anecdotes keep interest high. The layout varies from page to page. Each spread includes the main biographical text (easily identified by its appearance in cream-colored boxes) accompanied by pertinent art. Light green text sidebars offer additional information and serve as captions to the pictures. The deep purple endpapers are packed with da Vinci quotes written in old-world-style lettering. A bibliography (referencing the quotes), references for the illustrations, suggested Web sites, and further reading (for children and adults) are also included. This excellent resource provides an in-depth look at da Vinci and the impact that his work has had on the world.-Christine E. Carr, Lester C. Noecker Elementary School, Roseland, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3-8-Liberal quotes from this enigmatic genius's notebooks highlight his insatiable curiosity and extraordinary powers of observation. Detailed ink-and-watercolor artwork illustrates da Vinci's life, times, and artistic and scientific endeavors. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.