I’m always looking for ways to get my girls interested in art. It is very hard living in an area that does not have art museums easily accessible. When I was growing up in Los Angeles, we were taken to museums on a regular basis as part of our formal education.
So imagine my surprise to find the book “Who Stole the Mona Lisa?” in our local library and for J to declare it one of her favorite books. She read it over and over. I think that actually sparked her desire to take an art class and start delving into Picasso. This innovative take on da Vinci’s masterpiece is full of interesting facts, but is also told as something of a mystery about the time when Vincenzo Perugia stole the painting and kept it for two years.
Told from the perspective of the lady herself, this book starts in the Louvre with the reader getting to listen to a curator give a guided tour of the museum. They stop at the Mona Lisa for detailed inforation. Interesting facts about the time when Leonardo da Vinci painted her are presented along with great facts about the master himself. It turns out that the Mona Lisa was owned by many French kings until Napoleon decided to donate her to the Louvre where she became world famous.
Everything was great until 1911 when she was stolen from the wall of the museum. The French police looked everywhere, but could not find her. People came to the museum to see the blank space where she was supposed to be and pay tribute to her memory. She was finally found in the home of Vincenzo Perugia, an Italian living in Paris and the world went wild.
The book starts and ends questioning why the Mona Lisa is smiling. By the end of the book, we are told that she is smiling because she is happy. Happy to be back where she belongs.
As with great books for children that are based on actual events, the final page in this book is the author’s note with additional facts and details about the Mona Lisa and the time that she was stolen from her home.
Since reading this, J has also been reading “Who Was Leonardo da Vinci” and the Da Vinci edition of the Getting to Know the Great Artists series. She continues to learn huge amounts about the artist and his work and is quite fascinated by him. She has learned just how much of a renaissance man he was and all of the amazing things that he invented. She loves that he was fascinated by puzzles and codes. Her only sadness is that we can’t just visit the Louvre ourselves. Someday 🙂