Module 7: Leonardo’s Horse

20 07 2010

Book Cover

Summary: This is a story about Leonardo da Vinci and his life’s work, primarily the 28-foot-tall horse statue that he never completed. The book tells the story of this horse, how da Vinci first got the commission to create the horse, how he designed the horse and why it was never completed. The book then fast forwards centuries to 1977 and Charles Dent, an American art lover who learned about da Vinci’s horse and was determined to complete it as a gift to the Italian people.

Citation: Fritz, J. (2001) Leonardo’s Horse. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

My Impressions: I was expecting there to be more detail about da Vinci’s life and his other inventions, but the book focuses primarily on da Vinci’s unfinished horse. Despite that, the story was enjoyable, full of information I had never heard. The only problem I had with it is that it seemed to downplay da Vinci’s many achievements and genius.


“Although there are quite a few books about Leonardo, none delve so deeply into the history of the statue. Even the design of the book is unique. A title that is sure to create a lot of interest among young art, history, and horse lovers.” –Anne Chapman Callaghan, School Library Journal review excerpt

“Talbott’s (Forging Freedom) diverse multimedia artwork includes reproductions of da Vinci’s notebooks, panoramas revealing the Renaissance in lavish detail and majestic renderings of the final equine sculpture. Talbott makes creative use of the book’s format a rectangle topped by a semi-circle: the rounded space by turns becomes a window through which da Vinci views a cloud shaped like a flying horse; the domed building that was Dent’s studio and gallery; and a globe depicting the route the bronze horse travels on its way from the U.S. to Italy. An inventive introduction to the Renaissance and one of its masters.” Publisher’s Weekly review excerpt

Library Use Suggestion: This book would in an activity about inventions or inventors. After reading the book children could come up with and design their own invention and explain what it would do.


Module 1: Harold and the Purple Crayon

27 06 2010

Book Cover

Summary: Armed with only a purple crayon, Harold decides to go for an evening walk, drawing his own way and creating his own adventures before finding his way back home and into bed.

Citation: Johnson, Crockett. (1955). Harold and the Purple Crayon. Harper Collins.

My Impressions: I somehow missed this book as a child, but I definitely still enjoyed it as an adult. Harold is adventurous and very imaginative. The simple illustrations evoked the feeling of a child drawing on a white wall at home, not thinking about what he is doing, but simply enjoying it. I think children could really enjoy this book and identify with Harold who after all his strange adventures just wants to go home and go to bed.


“…For generations, children have cherished this ingenious and original little picture story.” — Horn Book

Do we look at art to learn things, or to feel things? I’d vote for feeling, and that’s why the art book I most recommend is Harold and the Purple Crayon…. — The New York Times Book Review, Deborah Solomon

Library Use Suggestions: This can be used to help children build imagination and even simple story skills. After this book is read aloud, the children can be asked to take a crayon of their own a draw a simple story with it using basic lines.