Name of Book: Leonardo’s Horse
Author: Jean Fritz
Illustrator: Hudson Talbot
Publisher: Penguin Putnam Books
Audience: Ages 9 – 12
Summary: This is the story of Leonardo Da’Vinci and a dream that he had to create a bronze horse for the Duke of Milan. He was employed by the duke to work on the horse and studied many horses to get ideas for how to make a bronze one. Leonardo made a model out of clay that was destroyed when the French invaded Milan in 1498. Leonardo was never able to finish the project and died grieving the horse that was not completed. Charles Dent read about Leonardo’s endeavor hundreds of years later and decided to finish the project. Charles became sick and died before completing the work. Friends and family of Charles promised that it would be finished. Through the work of many hands the bronze horse was completed. It was given as a gift to the people of Milan on Sept. 10, 1999 exactly five hundred years after Leonardo’s clay model was destroyed by the French.
Literary elements at work in the story: The genre of the book is an autobiography that focuses on one particular project that Leonardo Da’Vinci dreamed of making. The plot of the story illustrates for readers how many people over a period of time worked together to complete Leonardo’s dream. The plot lends itself to a discussion of how we as the church don’t accomplish things individually but together when all the parts of the body of Christ function as one in patient endurance. If one person was taken out the equation in this story, the project would not have been completed and given to the people of Milan.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economic ability: There are no particular perspectives on any of these areas that strongly influence this story. Although it is lengthy and would lend itself to being read in multiple sessions, the book is great for older elementary/middle school children. This age group is not often exposed to information about the lives of famous artists because it is not written in a format for them to understand. The picture book format teaches them about Leonardo in a way that they can understand.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:14-21; 25-26
Theology: God has made all parts of the body to work together as one. As a community of believers we are the body of Christ and each of us has special gifts that are to be used to produce a fruitful harvest. All of us have not been given the same task by God but each task is equally as important as another.
Faith Talk Questions:
- How was Leonardo different from other people?
- What did Leonardo do to prepare himself to create the bronze horse?
- How were Leonardo’s plans changed when the French invaded Milan?
- Why did Leonardo grow sad in his old age?
- How were Charles Dent and Leonardo similar?
- Why does the dream of the bronze horse once again not come true?
- How does the bronze horse finally come to be?
- Why did so many people come together to finish this project?
- How do all those who worked on the bronze horse remind us of the church being the body of Christ?
Review prepared by Marcia Rauch, MACE, Entering Cohort Fall 2006
Leonardo’s Horse by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.