LEONARDO’S HAND by Wick Downing


Age Range: 10 - 12
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Downing constructs his children's-book debut around an odd, but riveting, premise: a young Colorado orphan finds fame, fortune, and a loving family thanks to a helping hand—literally—from Leonardo da Vinci. Leonard, or "Nard," as he prefers to be called, often finds ingenious ways to cope with his lack of a left hand (he was born that way), but his brain really goes into high gear when a detached hand scuttles up, takes a pencil, and proclaims in mirror writing that it's been waiting 500 years for him to be reincarnated, and now it's time to get down to the business of changing the world. Visions of big bucks and a national tour dance in Nard's head, but the hand, dubbed "Vinci," stubbornly counsels a higher purpose—and displays the speed and cleverness to stay out of Nard's reach until he sees the light. The author surrounds his spirited, basically good-hearted protagonist with an unconventional foster family for a strong, colorful supporting cast, stirs in a generous but not over-ambitious helping of subplots, and brings the tale to a (literally, again) soaring climax in which Nard's human-powered flying machine competes for a hefty prize. The plotting does tend toward the predictable, but it's grand entertainment, with an unalloyed happy ending and a memorable fantasy element to give it a leg up. So to speak. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-618-07893-2
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2001