Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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Fritz, Jean.
New York : G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2001
IL K-3, RL 4.3
ISBN 0399235760

2 booktalks

Booktalk #1

Leonardo da Vinci – just his name evokes wonder-filled visions of beautiful works of art from paintings, to statues, to drawings of fantastic flying machines.  One of the works that Leonardo began was never finished in his lifetime – a statue of a horse for the Duke of Milan to give to his father.  Leonardo’s Horse begins with a brief look at Leonardo da Vinci’s life and then his meetings and plans for the horse.  Leonardo studied horses.  He drew them, he measured them, and he learned all about their muscles and how they worked together.  He actually did construct a 24-foot high clay model but then the real problems began – how to actually cast in bronze that large of a statue!  Then Leonardo was distracted by other projects and even a war interfered with his statue.  The Duke took all of the metal Leonardo had collected for making the horse to use for weapons. Then when the French attacked, they destroyed the clay model! All was lost and Leonardo worried about his horse until his dying day.  In 1977, Charlie Dent, an airline pilot read about Leonardo’s grief over not finishing the horse and decided that he would complete the task.  He studied, measured, and drew horses like Leonardo did.  Dent had a special domed building made to work in and began constructing the new horse.  However, Charlie Dent’s untimely death in 1994 ended his work.  Was the horse ever to be finished?  Read Leonardo’s Horse and follow Leonardo da Vinci’s and Charlie Dent’s stories to find out.
Prepared by: Skye Hall for South Carolina Children's Book Award

Booktalk #2

1519 -- Leonardo da Vinci was dying.  As he looked back on all the remarkable accomplishments of his unique, prolific life, one unrealized vision dominated his thoughts.  In his mind he could still picture a magnificent sculpture of a horse, brilliantly bronze and larger than life, but there was not more time left to him.  This one unfulfilled dream overshadowed all the other many wonderful things he had done, and his heart was broken.  Leonardo wept for his horse.

1994 -- Charlie Dent was dying.  He had always loved art, and he especially loved the art of Leonardo.  He wept to think that Leonardo's dream was still unrealized, and so he took up the challenge, vowing to finish what Leonardo had begun so many years before.  First he built a dome to house this powerful, elegant creature, but before he could finish it, Charlie got sick.  Now there was no more time left to him, but Charlie's friends and family promised him that they would finish the horse.  Charlie knew they would, and so he did not weep for his and Leonardo's horse.

1999 -- Nina Akamu stood on a platform in Milan.  She was waiting for the moment when the enormous cloth covering her creation would be lifted, and the creature within would be revealed.  Her talent, her devotion, her heart, and her dreams had entwined with those of Leonardo and Charlie.  Now this creature, first envisioned so many years before, was ready.  Nina wept, but this time the tears were joyful ones.  Leonardo's horse was finally home!  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face Committee, 2003)

SUBJECTS:     Leonardo's horse (Milan, Italy)
                        Horses in art.
                        Dent, Charles C.


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