Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 5^-8. Stanley continues her series of outstanding biographies, but this time she puts a new twist on some venerable art by using computer images. One of the most pleasing things about Stanley's books is the way her sturdy texts stand up to her strong artwork. That's particularly evident here, as she tells the story of Michelangelo's turbulent life in a style that is so readable, and occasionally so colloquial, that even children not readily interested in the subject will be drawn in. Readers will be intrigued to learn, for instance, that Michelangelo's art was not shaped by his own creative desires but by the popes and patrons who demanded the tombs, sculptures, and decorations that Michelangelo created. Since Michelangelo's life is so tied to the story of the Italian Renaissance, the book is also a historical survey of that period, capturing the moments of internecine warfare between everyone from the Medicis to Fra Savonarola and the Pope. Most of the artwork consists of Stanley's portraits and scenes. Especially impressive is one of a rock quarry--huge pieces of marble amidst an ocean of stone. But when it comes to Michelangelo's sculptures and paintings, Stanley does an interesting thing. Rather than trying to re-create them herself, she inserts actual images that were computer manipulated, using Adobe Photoshop. A few of the images are not as crisp as one might like, but seeing Michelangelo chiseling the statue of David makes for a surprising, effective bit of art. ((Reviewed August 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Stanley captures in words and pictures the essence of Michelangelo, man of the Renaissance--sculptor, painter, architect. Information is presented in an engaging manner with details selected not only to reveal the subject's character but also to whet the reader's interest. Each significant phase of Michelangelo's life is depicted in illustrations reminiscent of the period while incorporating computer-manipulated images of his work. Bib. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Stanley's biography of Michelangelo chronicles the political decline of the Renaissance as her Leonardo da Vinci (rev. 1/97) portrayed its splendor. Both books are fine achievements, presenting for young readers comprehensive, incisive, visually stimulating interpretations of a pivotal period in the development of Western culture. Yet they also differ in many ways; Stanley has produced two unique books that befit her uniquely magnificent subjects. Book design is the most immediately apparent divergence: Leonardo is presented on his jacket in the calm, enigmatic pose of the Mona Lisa; Michelangelo against the swirling, dynamic forms of the creation story from the Sistine Chapel. Gold borders ornament the text of Leonardo; thin, stone-gray lines that of Michelangelo. The narratives differ in tone, perhaps to fit the personalities they describe: Leonardo seems the more appealing of the two; Michelangelo more introverted. And certainly there was no love lost between them; Stanley describes their rivalry during the "Battle of the Titans," as the Florentines dubbed their commissions to paint frescoes (never completed) for the new council chamber. Once again, biographical information is presented in an engaging manner with details selected not only to reveal the subject's character but also to whet the reader's interest, recounting the fight that gave Michelangelo "the crumpled nose of a prizefighter," for example. The story of his education under the sponsorship of Lorenzo de' Medici, the methods by which he learned anatomy in order to achieve the accuracy and elegance of his sculptures, the constant struggles with the Renaissance popes who were among his patrons, and the immense efforts expended on his masterpieces are thoroughly explained. Care is also given to the correction of popular misconceptions: Michelangelo did not lie on his back while painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; he stood on a scaffolding and painted looking upward-an equally uncomfortable position. Each significant phase of his life is also depicted in illustrations reminiscent of the period and incorporating computer-manipulated images of Michelangelo's work. The full-page study of the Carrara quarry, from which Michelangelo obtained the marble for Pope Julius's tomb, is a superb examination of textures, light, and shadow done in a contemporary manner but at the same time thoroughly suited to the text. Stanley has indeed captured in both words and pictures the essence of Michelangelo, man of the Renaissance-sculptor, painter, architect. Bibliography. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Stanley is the premier creator of handsome, artistically ambitious, and factually accurate illustrated books that explore and explain the lives and times of major figures throughout history (Joan of Arc, 1998; Leonardo Da Vinci, 1996). She now trains hereducated eye on and turns her skilled hand to that Renaissance master of painting and sculpture—Michelangelo. Building on strong preparatory research, Stanley, like the best adult biographers, distills the culture, history, politics, and aesthetic of this unique era. Stanley particularly excels in selecting and integrating just enough context and detail to assure a genuine, empathetic treatment. Indeed, she weaves all the major elements of Michelangelo's long and astonishingly creative life into a compelling, anecdote-rich narrative: his country childhood with a wet-nurse and her stonecutter husband; early apprenticeships with the fresco painter Ghirlandaio and the sculptor Bertoldo; his "adoption" by Lorenzo de' Medici of Florence and the benefits of long-term friendships with the Medici family members; his early and dramatic successes with the Pietà and the David; the patronage of Pope Julius II, which led to the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the astonishing Moses; work on the Medici Chapel, the Sistine Chapel's Last Judgement, St. Peter's in Rome (not completed in his lifetime); and finally, his peaceful death at 89. Stanley wisely understands the breadth of her own technique; instead of attempting to render these familiar Renaissance images herself, sheably integrates computer-manipulated reproductions of Michelangelo's masterpieces into her carefully rendered mixed-media illustrations. This handsome, affordable, lavishly illustrated and wonderfully readable book has broad appeal. It deserves heavy representation in home, school, and public library collections. (Biography. 9+) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews

There is no one like Stanley (Leonardo da Vinci; Joan of Arc) for picture-book biography she brings to the genre an uncanny ability to clarify and compress dense and tricky historical matter, scrupulous attention to visual and verbal nuances, and a self-fulfilling faith in her readers' intelligence. Returning to the Italian Renaissance, she looks at Michelangelo: "In an age of great artists, he was perhaps the greatest," she posits, pointing to his masterpieces in the three major arts sculpture, painting and architecture. Her panoramic telling of his life story, fascinating in and of itself, also illuminates papal politics, the machinations of the Medicis, the technical difficulties of painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling (an assignment so unpleasant that Michelangelo thought his rival Bramante had put the pope up to it), the heady climate of Florence and other complex topics. The illustrations again manifest Stanley's prodigious talents. Her detailed rendering of the pre-Michelangelo Sistine Chapel, for example, is dramatic, expressive and historically accurate. Unfortunately, the digital techniques she used to good effect in Leonardo collaging in photos of her subject's work are not successful here. She skillfully integrates reproductions of Michelangelo's own paintings and other two-dimensional art, but when she shows him toiling on the Pietà or with other sculptures, the difference in the depths of field is jarring: one portion of her composition is flat, another seems three-dimensional. The dislocating effect blemishes an otherwise outstanding work. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In a panoramic telling of Michelangelo's life story, the author "brings to bear an uncanny ability to clarify and compress dense and tricky historical matter, scrupulous attention to visual and verbal nuances, and a self-fulfilling faith in her readers' intelligence," said PW. Ages 8-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4-7-As Michelangelo breathed life into stone, Stanley chisels three-dimensionality out of documents. Her bibliography lists original material as well as respected scholarship; from these sources she has crafted a picture-book biography that is as readable as it is useful. She approaches her subject chronologically, from the artist's early childhood with a wet nurse in a household of stonecutters through his long history of papal commissions to his deathbed musings. In addition to the direct (although uncited) quotes and delineation of his life's journey and major works, she provides an unobtrusive explanation of the style, technique, and meaning of Michelangelo's sculptures, architecture, and paintings. She includes an iconography of the Sistine Chapel, shown in all its restored glory. An author's note and map provide historical context, the former explaining the impact of the classical excavations on the Renaissance sensibilities. Integrating Michelangelo's art with Stanley's watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil figures and settings has the desired effect: readers will be dazzled with the master's ability, while at the same time pulled into his daily life and struggles. Stanley has manipulated his art on the computer, particularly the sculpture, to tone down the marble's gloss and definition. As a result, the images are more convincing as "works in progress." Her careful use of scale and color contribute to the success of the scenes. For further information, readers may sample Gabriella Di Cagno's Michelangelo (1996) or Vittorio Giudici's The Sistine Chapel (2000, both Peter Bedrick). For fascinating facts with an attitude, try Veronique Milande's Michelangelo and His Times (Holt, 1996).-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.