Cover image for Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, c2005.
Physical Description:
124 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
1010 L Lexile
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 921 LEONARDO 1 1
Book J 921 LEONARDO 1 1
Book J 921 LEONARDO 0 1

On Order



For thirty years, the whole last half of his life, Leonardo da Vinci was obsessed with unlocking the secrets of nature. His notebooks are the mind-boggling evidence of a fifteenth-century scientist standing at the edge of the modern world, basing his ideas on observation and experimentation. Scrupulously researched, juicily anecdotal, this book will change children's ideas of who Leonardo was and what it means to be a scientist.

Author Notes

Authors Bio, not available

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

With this illuminating biography, Krull (The Boy on Fairfield Street) kicks off her planned six-volume Giants of Science series. Krull convincingly portrays her subject, noting the Renaissance man's remarkably far-reaching accomplishments while also conveying his humanity and sense of humor. She places him in the context of his times, describing him as an outsider (as one born out of wedlock) and explains that the young Leonardo had a close rapport with his "scientist-farmer" uncle, and that "the natural world was Leonardo's first laboratory." When Leonardo became a teenager, his father secured for him an apprenticeship to Florence's leading painter and sculptor (luckily, "artists didn't necessarily have to be respectable," Krull observes with a wink), Andrea del Verrocchio. From him Leonardo learned that "an artist should be capable of rendering anything in nature." This lesson forged a vital link between science and art that endured throughout Leonardo's life. Krull describes the impact of Gutenberg's movable type, and the resulting knowledge giving rise to a greater influx of ideas as more people had access to books. The author also underscores the significance of a series of notebooks (written backwards), which were "the core obsession of Leonardo's life" and are "what place him among the giants of science." With an inviting, conversational narrative and Kulikov's (The Perfect Friend, reviewed Aug. 15) occasional atmospheric pen-and-inks, this series launches with an impressive start. Ages 10-up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate) This lively biography, the initial offering in the Giants of Science series, sets a high standard for the five books to follow. Krull defines da Vinci as a scientist, an individual who revered knowledge and used observation and experimentation to draw conclusions, and focuses her text on examples that substantiate this view. She outlines the historical context in which da Vinci operated as well as the ways in which his work has influenced contemporary thought. Her narrative voice is filled with energy and wonder: ""He wanted to explain the nervous system, the muscles and veins and capillaries, how the five senses worked, the flow of blood, each bone of the skeleton, every organ...everything."" While Krull clearly differentiates between fact and conjecture, unsubstantiated opinions occasionally creep in. Still, the considerable strengths far outweigh the weaknesses and result in a highly readable account. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-8. Launching her Giants of Science series, Krull writes a lively biography of Leonardo da Vinci that highlights his scientific approach to understanding the physical world. The first half of the book describes Leonardo's apprenticeship and his work as an artist in Milan. The second half relates events in his later life, emphasizing his observation and investigation of the human body and nature. Discussing at length the remarkable notebooks in which Leonardo recorded his explorations, theories, and thoughts on natural phenomena, Krull suggests that had the notebooks been published, they would have changed the history of science. The book's frank discussion of Leonardo's life and times includes references to castration as punishment and a chapter discussing historians' disagreement over Leonardo's sexuality (most think he was probably a homosexual ) and his summons to answer an accusation of having sex with a male prostitute. Though the handling is matter-of-fact, these passages may raise eyebrows in a book intended for Ages 10 up according to the jacket flap. There are no source notes. The book concludes with a bibliography, Web sites, and a detailed section on Leonardo's notebooks. Six excellent ink drawings illustrate this attractive volume. A very readable, vivid portrait set against the backdrop of remarkable times. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2005 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-With a totally captivating opening and a conversational writing style, Krull offers a vivid description of life in the Middle Ages: no printed books, no bathrooms, and a belief in magic. In a time when pig manure was used to cure nosebleeds, the dawning of the Renaissance would have been quite a contrast indeed. The book moves along at a steady clip and adds details to bring da Vinci and his times to life. The author discusses his lonely childhood, his insatiable curiosity and craving for knowledge, and how his illegitimate status affected his life. Most importantly, she shows the workings of a scientific mind and the close connection between science and art. Kulikov's stylish and exacting line drawings are engaging and incorporate many of the items and interests found in Leonardo's notebooks. Readers will come away from this accessible volume with an understanding of who Leonardo was and a desire to know more about this fascinating, brilliant man.-Laura Younkin, Ballard High School, Louisville, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Debuting a new series, Krull presents a compelling argument that the great painter of the Renaissance was one of the West's first real modern scientists. Into the stew of superstition that passed for scientific thought in medieval Europe was born Leonardo, illegitimate and therefore only very sketchily schooled, he grew up largely on his own, rambling around his family's property and observing nature. The portrait that emerges is of a magpie mind: He studied and thought and wrote about very nearly everything. The breezy text draws heavily from Leonardo's own writings, discussing his groundbreaking forays into anatomy, water management and flight, always propelled by a commitment to direct scientific observation. That Krull manages, in some 100-plus text pages, to present Leonardo's scientific accomplishments while at the same time conveying a sense of the man himself--his probable homosexuality is presented frankly, as are his pacifism and the overriding opportunism that had him designing weapons of war for the Duke of Milan--is no mean feat and bodes well for the succeeding volumes in the series. (appendix, bibliography, Web sites, index) (Biography. 10-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 8
Chapter 1 "So Many Things Unknown!"p. 11
Chapter 2 The Outsiderp. 17
Chapter 3 "The Desire to Know Is Natural"p. 23
Chapter 4 "Nothing but Full Privies"p. 35
Chapter 5 "Lying on a Feather Mattress"p. 40
Chapter 6 "The Universe Stands Open"p. 50
Chapter 7 Citizen of the Worldp. 60
Chapter 8 The Fabulous Notebooksp. 68
Chapter 9 The Fabulous Notebooks, Part 2p. 74
Chapter 10 "I Have Wasted My Hours"p. 93
Chapter 11 "I Will Continue"p. 101
Chapter 12 What Happened Next?p. 105
Leonardo's Notebooks and Where They Are Nowp. 115
Bibliographyp. 120
Indexp. 125