Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Young Readers Group: NY, 2003.
Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer is a biography for young readers focusing on Leonardo's notebooks, as that is where most of the knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci's thoughts, explorations, and discoveries come from. The writing is accessible to 1st through 5th graders (though a challenge for some 1st and 2nd graders) without watering down the content too much. The text could stand alone, but the illustrations add greatly to the appeal of the book. I selected the book first of all for the beauty of the design and pictures, and the reading experience was excellent with both combined. The illustrations draw the reader in, and with so many details, children will want to pour over the pages.
This may not be what you would normally think of as a picture book, but it can be used for young ones, primarily looking at the pictures or skipping over some of the content and discussing some, too. I do think there is enough information to appeal to 5th graders still, but the illustrations, blending many of da Vinci's own sketches with scenes from his life, are so fascinating that the illustrations are most of the book. Any child reading the book will come away with a greater understanding of Leonardo da Vinci than I had in my pre-college years.
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