Lorraine Hopping's "World of Inventors: Leonardo daVinci": a fascinating book, but a floppy, faulty flight
Lorraine Hopping's "World of Inventors: Leonardo daVinci" book for ages 8 and up has beautiful illustrations and interesting information on the Renaissance, daVinci, and his inventions and inventor mindset. The promised daVinci ornithopter that you build and fly on your own, however, is cheap and disappointing.
The first part of the 40-page book introduces the Italian Renaissance and daVinci's life. The second part focuses in on his inventions, machines, and ideas. The third part emphasizes inventing in modern times and inspires kids to invent on their own using daVinci as a role model.
The book displays vibrant photographs, drawings, and recreations of daVinci's famous notebook, his inventions, his sketches, his art (including the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper), and other historical images of his time. The book discusses the scientific method, daVinci's biographical background, the Renaissance as a whole, daVinci's thought process, and daVinci's effect on and link to the world today. The book emphasizes daVinci's multifaceted impact that has stood the test of time and how kids can get involved in inventing, too. This book inspires kids to explore questions about nature, blur the lines between art, math, science, music, and literature like daVinci did, and invent something of their own.
This message is a little ironic, though, as behind the book there is a make-it-yourself ornithopter...with complete step-by-step instructions (more monkey do, monkey see than any inventing or creativity).This ornithopter, which is supposed to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (the book) is a rather cheap and disappointing model that doesn't really fly.The tab that must be pulled out for the ornithopter to fly gets stuck after winding the rubber band up; I had to use a pair of scissors to ply it out! Also, it takes 40-45 turns of the tail winder to wind up, which is a lot of wrist-turning. It also takes about 15-20 minutes to assemble and wind up. The book has other recipes for inventions, like egg-tempera paint, a paper helicopter. and a cotton ball catapult (cool, but also completely structured: REcreating, not creating).
Though the ornithopter is fun and easy to assemble and looks cool, it has serious flaws and is made of cheap material, making it frustrating instead of fun to use. It's flight is choppy -- it doesn't really work. The book, however, is much more valuable and inspiring than the ornithopter; it is interesting, surprising, educational, and even engaging. It's too bad that the ornithopter doesn't hold up to the writing that lets kids delve into daVinci's world of inventing.
Aside from the floppy ornithopter, the book is a great read for kids andinspires them to be creative and invent! Maybe they can even use their newfound inventorskills to get the ornithopter working! You can buy it at www.amazon.com.
Mom Central received a review copy of "World of Inventors: Leonardo daVinci."