Exploring art with a Mystery

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.

who stole mona lisaSo 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.

who was da vinciSince 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 artistsDVDjust 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 🙂


  1. Wow. Don’t you just love it when your child connects with a book. I like to give my daughter biographies to read. So far she has really loved reading about Annie Oakley.

  2. After reading a biography based on Van Gogh’s life, I am looking out for more biography books on great artists. This book must be our next stop. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I would highly recommend any of the books from the Getting to Know the Great Artists series. We have been highly impressed by them as well!

    1. We have loved the Who Was series! I think it is fun to engage them with story texts as well, at least that has always worked best with my kids. Thanks for the invite to the linkup!

  3. We don’t have great museums where I live either. This looks like a quality book that might possibly substitute for a trip to the museum and still provide lots of great info and illustrations. It’s great that your daughter was so inspired by it.

    1. We’ve been finding a ton of great books about art that I will post about soon. It is definitely a struggle, but kids are such amazing sponges, books are a great way to bring more art into their lives.

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