cover image Cleonardo, the Little Inventor

Cleonardo, the Little Inventor

Mary GrandPré. Scholastic/Levine, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-439-35764-7

Setting her tale in a rococo medieval world, GrandPré (The Noisy Paint Box) joins her heroine, Cleonardo Wren, to the family tree of Leonardo da Vinci—he’s her beloved grandfather. After Cleo’s inventor father, Geonardo, shoos her out of his workshop, she retreats to the forest to make contraptions out of objects from nature—a whirligig made from dragonfly wings, a sphere of vines lifted by butterflies. Despite Geonardo’s impatience, his daughter’s presence and opinions clearly matter to him. When he comes up with a special invention for the town’s Grand Festival of Inventions, he declares, “My little Wren will love it as much as the judges.” On the big day, her inventions prevent disaster, and father and daughter become true collaborators. GrandPré’s spreads glow with richly embroidered textiles, exotic foliage, and dramatic lighting. The thorough emphasis on the importance of a strong father-daughter (and grandfather-granddaughter) bond is welcome but sometimes drawn with a heavy hand (“Delicate and strong... just like my Cleonardo Wren,” Geonardo gushes as he sets out for the contest). It’s GrandPré’s visual pyrotechnics that will entrance readers. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Aug.)