Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Leonardo the Florentine- A Review and a Giveaway

If you have a middle school reader who enjoys history and art, then this novel which fictionalizes the early life of Leonardo da Vinci will be just the book for him or her. 
This is the first in "The Life and Travels of da Vinci" series and it is obvious that the author, Catherine McGrew Jaime, has researched well a beloved topic. She expertly interwove facts about Leonardo's tense relationship with his father, his apprenticeship to master Verrocchio, Florence's architectural details, and information about the Medici family into a quick-reading narrative. 

In this section, Leonardo has lived in Florence for only six months. He grabbed his drawing utensils--sketching paper and a charcoal stick.
What he really wanted to do was to draw--to draw the buildings that he was seeing here, and to put some of this amazing architecture down on paper where he could study it in the evenings. He had seen a church before he came to Florence, certainly, and yet he had never imagined this many churches in one location before. Church spires punctured the sky above Florence at every block. (p. 53)
When Leonardo wasn't busy helping Verrocchio mix paints, create colorful banners, jeweled robes, and beautiful blankets for the Medici family; or run errands for him, he learned Latin and hovered around other workshops. Alongside Antonio Pollaiuolo, he helped perform autopsies and studied muscles and joints. Other times he visited Paolo Toscanelli, a famous mathematician and mapmaker where he learned elements of astronomy, geography and optics.

At twenty-years-old, six years after being apprenticed to Verrochio, Leonardo was accepted into the Painters' Guild and given the title, Maestro (Master). Although he was entitled to open his own workshop he stayed another five years so he could continue to learn from Verrochio. 

Once on his own, he began receiving small commissions. Although he was a masterful painter, inventing and science were his first loves. Even when money was tight, he "continued his scientific and mechanical work, with designs for screws, drills, mills, and machines for waterworks." (p. 148)  Eventually Leonardo got tired of Florence and decided to apply to the Duke of Milan for work. He wrote a letter to the duke suggesting his defensive plans could be a help to him, packed his belongings, some of his favorite drawings, and his prized silver lyre. With only a few coins to his name he started out on the two hundred mile journey that would take him to his next adventure.
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For the next chapter in Leonardo's life, you'll have to read Leonardo: Masterpieces in Milan. If you wish to enter the drawing for this book, please leave me a comment by 6 PM July 1. Make sure you leave your email address if I don't have it. Follow my blog or share this on social media and I'll enter your name twice; just make sure you tell me what you do. 

You might also want to check out Catherine's overview of Da Vinci's life in her book, Leonardo Da Vinci: His Life and His Legacy.

15 comments:

Melodye said...

What a heady, if probably sometimes anxious, life he must've lived! I love reading the backstories of famous artists!

Carol Baldwin said...

Yes, I believe you're right, Melodye. Your name starts the giveaway list!

Connie said...

I have a nephew who would enjoy this but Aunt Connie wants to read it first:-) I always enoy learning reading biographical fiction. Caro, I follow your blog and I shared on Twitter.
Thank you!
Connie
cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

https://twitter.com/cps1950/status/880060303609933824

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Connie. Yes--this is biographical fiction and I was searching for the right term to describe it. I've put you in twice--once for you, and once for your nephew!

Catherine Jaime said...

Carol,
Thank you for the sweet review! I loved writing this book (and the other novels I've written about Leonardo da Vinci). He truly was a fascinating man, and the more I've learned about him the more I've wanted to learn.
Catherine

Cat Michaels said...

LOL----I'd like to have a read myself! Thanks for the insights

Carol Baldwin said...

YOu're in, Cat!

Rosi said...

This sounds like a terrific book. I will definitely tell my granddaughter about it. I will pass on the drawing, though. I've won recently and we are pretty much buried in books over here. Thanks for telling me about it.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Rosi. And I understand the "buried in books" problem. Although it's a good one, isn't it?

Elena said...

Right up my alley:) i'll be sure to recommend it!

Carol Baldwin said...

It is up your alley, Elena. I thought of this book when I looked at your recent blogs!

Bonnie J. Doerr said...

What a super concept for a series. Thanks for informing us about these books.

Carol Baldwin said...

I'll add your name to the list, Bonnie. thanks for commenting.

Catherine Jaime said...

For those who didn't win the giveaway, I wanted to let you know that Leonardo the Florentine is available on Amazon as a paperback, an ebook and an audio book. And if anyone likes to listen to Audibles, I have a few coupon codes available for the audio version. I just ask for an honest review in exchange. You can contact me through my website or Facebook if you would like an Audible coupon code for it.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you for your generous offer, Catherine!