Fritz, J. (2001). Leonardo’s horse. Illustrated by Hudson Talbott. New York: G.P.
This book is appropriate for grades 2 through 6. For younger grades, reading aloud would be more appropriate.
This book could be used during social studies instruction.
Jean Fritz is a well known author and has been writing for over forty years. To research this book, she traveled to Italy to see Leonard’s horse and be present for the unveiling. In the acknowledgements, Jean Fritz lists the Board of Trustees for the Leonardo Da Vinci horse.
2002 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People; Orbis Pictus Recommended Title; ALA Notable Children's Books; Not Just for Children Anymore! Selections by the Children's Book Council; ABC Choices Award from the Association of Booksellers for Children; Voice of Youth Advocates Nonfiction Honors List
This book is about the unfinished work of Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo did not finish the twenty-four foot statue for the Duke of Milan. It was said that Leonardo wept on his deathbed for the unfinished horse. In 1977, Charles Dent, an art lover, read the story of the unfinished horse and decided to complete it. He spent many years researching, building, and preparing for the completion of the horse. It was not completed upon his death in 1994. A sculptor, Nina Akamu, finished the job in 1999.
The social studies strands addressed by this book are People, Places, and Environments, Science, Technology, and Society, and Time Continuity, and Change.
The illustrations in this book were done in watercolors, pen and ink, colored pencil and collage. The illustrations are brightly colored and show detail in the horse and its stages, as well as the process the creation went through. The illustrations were very engaging ad fun to look at. There appears to be illustrations of the different stages of the horse as if from Leonardo’s own drawings. Different views of the horse using different media add interest to the story.
Important access features in this book are the dome shaped book, bronze colored end pages, an acknowledgement, and author’s note. Within the book is a flow chart that shows the process the horse took from a clay plaster to bronze.
Use in My Classroom:
I would use this book during studies of the Renaissance period, specific artist studies of Leonardo Da Vinci, or sculpture.
My Response to the Book:
I was eager to read this book because of my interest in art. That, coupled with finding that the author was Jean Fritz made this a book I thoroughly enjoyed! I have read many of Jean Fritz’s books, so I knew this would be a great book. I was interested to find out about the horse that Leonardo Da Vinci started but had never finished. I had never heard about this horse and was pleased to learn more. The dome shape to the book made it an interesting book to read as well. This is a book I would use in my classroom and know that my students would enjoy.
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Amazing Leonardo Da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself by Maxine Anderson
Who Was Leonardo Da Vinci? by Roberta Edwards
Leonardo, The Beautiful Dreamer by Robert Byrd
Related web site: www.leonardoshorse.org/index.asp