Books, History, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Neo Leo

Author/Illustrator: Gene Barretta
Publication Info: Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt Company, 2009
Intended audience: Ages 7 and up (though my five-year-old loves it)
Genre: nonfiction, picture book
Themes/topics: science, inventions, biography, history
Opening and synopsis: ”Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated by the world around him. He studied animals and people. He watched plants grow and birds fly. He explored mighty rivers. Nature was his teacher. It inspired his remarkable studies and inventions.”
Think airplanes, artificial hearts, tanks and contact lenses are “neo”? Think again. These inventions are so “Leo.”  Inventor Leonardo da Vinci dreamed up and described the concepts years before they came to fruition in modern times. Barretta’s wonderful book describes 15 modern inventions with da Vinci origins, displaying the inventor’s sheer genius.
Why I like this book: Da Vinci is such an inspiring figure, who couldn’t love a book chronicling his achievements? Still, Barretta adds a twist: each invention includes notes in the mirror writing that da Vinci perfected. Children have to hold up the book to a mirror to read the notes and learn more. Barretta also includes a bibliography of books, Web sites and DVDs for further reading.
Resources: Since I took a Renaissance art history class eons ago, we looked at some of da Vinci’s artwork in my old textbooks. The Museum of Science has a fantastic Leonard da Vinci page aimed at parents and teachers….here. TeachersPayTeachers has a FREE downloadable lesson about Leonardo and the Wright Brothers
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.