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Physical Book: Leonardo da Vinci Gets a Do-Over Review by Wendy RobertsonMark P. Friedlander, Jr.
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Leonardo da Vinci Gets a Do-Over is a novel geared toward upper elementary and middle school students. The novel is both an engaging story and a wonderful learning experience for children in this age range. Besides telling an interesting story, it weaves lessons in a variety of subjects right into the text.
What you do if you were told that you’d been born in the wrong century? And upon your death bed, a gypsy woman promised you the opportunity to live in the “correct” time? This is exactly what happens to world-famous artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci in this novel. The only catch is that during his “do-over,” Leonardo must create or invent something for the betterment of mankind. If he doesn’t, his second death will be much worse than his first was.
While on a school trip to Florence, Italy, three teenagers (Tad, Max, and Gina) meet the Leonardo da Vinci “actor.” Their teacher chaperones are, understandably, very skeptical of the man who claims to be the real Leonardo da Vinci. After all, people don’t come back from the dead. But the teens are still young enough to believe in magic, and they believe the Maestro is who he says he is. They take it upon themselves to help him accomplish his quest.
For review, I was provided a free physical copy of this novel and a digital download of the corresponding unit study. The unit study is available from the company’s website free of charge; the price of the novel (at the time of this review) is $12.95. In our family, we used this book as a read-aloud, usually read during breakfast. My children enjoyed the story, but occasionally found the “hidden lessons” to be a bit much. Some of them were really interesting (how an airplane works) but others were difficult to follow and didn’t seem that relevant to them (how to convert miles to kilometers). The story was definitely engaging, though, and made up for the “boring” lessons within the text.
The unit study material was really well put together. It is divided up according to the chapters in the book, with a variety of lessons that complement each chapter. There are simple things, like vocabulary and how to talk to your students about ratios. There are also worksheets and science experiments. With the proper planning time, this would be a wonderful unit study in a homeschool, especially among students interested in Leonardo da Vinci.
Science, Naturally! has many other products in their storehouse, including another book in the “Innovators in Action” series. I think it’s really great that they provide the unit study free for families, and it’s a great unit study at that. This product, and company, is definitely worth looking into!
-Product Review by Wendy Robertson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2015