Young Leonardo

BiG. Mar. 2021. 100p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781643376417.
Gr 4-7–Augel fictionalizes the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci. After introducing da Vinci’s family members and other figures (“La Famiglia”), Augel begins with a wordless, panel-less sequence. Unlike the other youth, who make snowpeople, young Leonardo sculpts an impressive stallion out of snow. A few pages later, Leonardo tells his future mentor Andrea del Verrocchio that, in addition to being a painter, he’s “still deciding” among 10 other careers—a nod to his polymath future. Whatever the situation, the young da Vinci never ceases to amuse with his antics. Every object, person, or happenstance becomes linked to one of da Vinci’s famous discoveries, inventions, or works of art. Nearly identical in tone to its predecessor, Young Mozart, this French import respectfully makes light of its subject’s genius. Though most of the comics follow a similar one-page, 12-panel structure, Augel breaks up the repetition with decorative details between panels and other clever deviations of form. Spotlight pages home in on key quotes and humorous blunders for some punchline moments. Modern dialogue and anachronistic references to characters like Batman and Mario make the Renaissance setting more accessible. While none of the stories are explicitly presented as nonfiction, the “Leonardo’s Notebook” section lists some of the true facts that inspired them, along with educational activities and games. A teaching guide is also appended.
VERDICT A hilarious supplement or entry point into da Vinci’s real-life legacy. For larger graphic novel collections.

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