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Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself Review by Lisa Kjeldgaard

Maxine Anderson
Nomad Press
2456 Christian Street
White River Junction, VT 05001

As mom to a 12-year-old son who's addicted to history and always sketching ideas for new gadgets, I knew Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself was a book that needed to be added to our library. Maxine Anderson's book didn't disappoint!

Instead of a mere activity book, Ms. Anderson has written a meaty volume that begins with an interesting description of the Renaissance time period followed by a brief biography of da Vinci. The chapters that follow highlight the different branches of study tackled by this talented artist-inventor such as water, machines, flight, and war. The book is crammed with interesting illustrations, biographies of other Renaissance figures, and historical facts and trivia; it also includes copies of many sketches taken directly from Leonardo's journals. Before each of the 30 building and craft projects is a one- to three-page introduction highlighting the history behind the inventions, which are the perfect length for a quick read-aloud before setting the kids loose to create. The book's projects have detailed step-by-step instructions with lots of diagrams, which make the plans easy for children to follow on their own. There's also a complete glossary as well as a resource list of books, articles, and websites for children interested in further study.

This book is a perfect addition to a study of the Renaissance period or any lessons in physical science. However, don't pass this by if you're not studying those topics! It's a perfect summer project book that will keep the kids occupied with constructive activities and is sure to spur on their own creative inventions. So far my kids have been making plastic and creating messages with invisible ink, and they are planning to walk on water next. They did need some coaxing to get into the book as the pages and pages of narrative didn't immediately draw them in. However, with a little encouragement, they quickly saw what a treasure this book was, and I've often found them poring over it.

My son summed it up well: "It's a great book. The projects are easy to do, and I could find everything I needed right in the house!"

Product review by Lisa Kjeldgaard, MS, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2006