A veteran writer of lively biographies has turned her attention to quite an engaging story: the biography of an equine sculpture. She starts with Leonardo da Vinci and his fascination with everything—drawing, sketching, writing, and musing—and with making: sculpture, weapons, even party tricks. He made a 24-foot-high clay model of a horse for the Duke of Milan, but before it could be cast, French archers and rain destroyed it. This haunted Leonardo for the rest of his life. It haunted American Charles Dent in the 1970s, also, and he vowed to produce Leonardo's horse as a gift from the American people to the people of Italy. He died in 1994, but sculptor Nina Akamu and a host of others kept his promise. In typical Fritz (Why Not, Lafayette?
, 1999, etc.) fashion, her story is filled with engaging details of Leonardo's personality and his world. Likewise, the contemporary process by which the horse was created and cast is described with enough detail to fascinate but not to bore. Talbott (Forging Freedom
, 2000, etc.) uses mixed media and collage to create his illustrations, which range from utterly recognizable scenes of Florence to the ghostly horses at Leonardo's deathbed. The contemporary images are drawn with as much spirit and vitality as the Renaissance ones. An unusual biography for young people, and one well worth poring over, its format is also noteworthy. It has a rounded top, giving the artist ample opportunity for the dome under which the horse was built as well as a chance to explore a unique way of picturing a unique world. Together, Fritz and Talbott have forged an extraordinary tribute to two dreamers 500 years apart. (Biography. 7-12)Read full book review >