Michelangelo for Kids


© Copyright – Cover image courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing

 Stone Giant: Michelangelo’s David and How He Came to Be

  • Targeted Audience: Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 6 -9)
  • Genre: Picture Book-Biography
  • Author: Jane Sutcliffe
  • Illustrator: John Shelley
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing
  • Publication Date: April 8, 2014
  • Binding: Highest Quality Hard Cover
  • Dimensions: 9″ X 11.25″
  • Printing: Full color
  • Length: 32 Pages
  • Retail: $16.95
  • ISBN: 978-1580892957

Note: This title will not be published until April, but you can reserve your copy of Stone Giant today.

40 Years with a Giant Slab of Marble

Stone Giant is the picture book story of how David, one of the world’s most famous marble statues, came to be. During the Renaissance era of the late fifteenth century, the city of Florence acquired an enormous slab of marble they hoped would be carved into a statue of David to represent the city in all its glory.  Several different artists worked on the project, but they either quit or died, leaving behind a slab with chisels and holes, laying unfinished in the yard of the city’s cathedral. Even da Vinci was uninterested in trying to salvage what was left of that slab. Years later, along came Michelangelo who looked at the weathered marble, and unlike all the other artists saw an image of David in that giant slab that the city could be proud of. Michelangelo worked day and night for four years, chiseling away at the stone under the shed he built around it. And when he was finished in 1504, his masterpiece was celebrated not only by people of Florence, but all over the world.

Engaging Storytelling with Beautiful Illustrations


© Copyright – Inside image courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing

Author Jane Sutcliffe is a master at biographical storytelling for young readers. She takes a subject commonly studied by high school and college students and breaks it down into an educational and inspiring story ideal for a picture book audience. In Stone Giant her words flow from page to page and readers will hang on to every sentiment. Combine her storytelling prowess with illustrator John Shelley’s incredible artwork. The full color printing using a matte finish gives the illustrations an old world charm – just what you’d expect to see artwork to be like in Michelangelo’s Renaissance era. He created artistic borders and detailed backgrounds that are really impressive. Just take a look at the way he paints walls of bricks! What’s most remarkable are his depictions of David himself from all angles and with such detail.

What This Book Teaches640px-David_von_Michelangelo

The youngest readers will get perhaps their first lesson in art history when reading  Stone Giant. They will learn about geography, the Renaissance era and a bit about the life of Michelangelo and just how long it takes to create and physically relocate an artistic masterpiece that is in many ways larger than life. With the Author’s Note in the back of the book, they will also discover how may times precious David has been in need of repair. What I love most about this story is the subtle message that just when it appears that there is no solution to a very big problem, there’s always an innovative person who comes along to turn that problem into a great success story.

Image of David in the Public Domain

janes-167x300About the Author

Jane Sutcliffe is the author of nearly two dozen children’s biographies. Her articles have been published in Highlights for Children, Boys’ Life, and Appleseeds. She is the author of Leonardo’s Monster,, also published by Pelican. Sutcliffe has written biographies about Admiral Chester Nimitz, Walt Disney, Paul Revere, Amelia Earhart, John F. Kennedy and many others. She serves as a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, actively participating in the New England chapter. She lives with her family and dog in Tolland, Connecticut.

About the IllustratorJohnShelley0

John Shelley studied at the Bournville School of Art and Manchester Polytechnic. He started his art career as a freelance illustrator in London, but his interest in Ukiyo-e woodblock prints led him to Tokyo in 1987, where he lived for 21 years working as a commercial illustrator and children’s book illustrator.  Following his first major picture book The Secret in the Matchbox (1989 Mother Goose Award runner-up), his children’s illustrations have been published in the UK, USA, Europe, Japan and the Far East. As an author his own published stories include Hoppy’s New House (Fukuinkan Shoten) and The House of the World (Benesse).

Further Learning

  1. Read the Author’s Note in the back of the book.
  2. Learn more about David in the bible.
  3. Browse the web to earn more details about the life and work of the artist.
  4. Find Florence on a map of the world.
  5. Look at photographs of the artists work in the Sistine Chapel.

ChesterNimitzCoverI highly recommend you also buy Chester Nimitz and the Sea. another great biography by Jane Sutcliffe.

Happy Veterans Day, Admiral Chester Nimitz

ChesterNimitzCoverChester Nimitz and the Sea

◦    Targeted Audience: Pre-School and Lower Elementary (Ages 5-8)
◦    Genre: Non-Fiction Picture Book
◦    Author: Jane Sutcliffe
◦    Illustrator: Craig kodera
◦    Publisher: Pelican Publishing
◦    Publication Date:September 20, 2013
◦    Binding: High Quality Hard Cover
◦    Dimensions: 8.5″ x 11″
◦    Printing: Full Color
◦    Length: 32 Pages
◦    Retail: $16.99
◦    ISBN: 978-1455617968

Celebrate all that is Veteran’s Day

Children may think of Veteran’s Day as a day off from school, but it’s important we educate them about what this holiday truly means. Chester Nimitz and the Sea is the perfect way to open a discussion with your kids about the countless men and women who serve (and have served) our great nation, so that we may all be free.

True Story of a Brave and Clever WWII Admiral

Chester_Nimitz-fleet-admiralChester Nimitz and the Sea is the true story of one of America’s greatest World War II Admirals. Born in 1885, he grew up in his grandfather’s Steamboat Hotel in Fredericksburg, TX. He trained at the US Naval Academy and ventured out to sea, where he learned some valuable lessons and demonstrated great integrity and leadership. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Chester Nimitz to stay in Pearl Harbor until the war was over. It was here that he became a four-star Fleet Admiral in charge of all of the American ships in the Pacific Ocean. Through clever strategic planning under his direction, the US won the Battle of Midway in the Pacific, and the Japanese signed the Surrender that ended the war.

Photo Of Admiral Nimitz (1885-1966) in the Public Domain

A Challenging Subject for for the Youngest Readers

Author Jane Sutcliffe’s  love of biographies led her to this challenging writing project, and those who read it will be so glad she did. She takes one of the most difficult subjects to write about for children –  war – and presents it in a beautiful way that is easy to understand, yet still interesting for the adults who read to their kids. It’s wonderful that there are biographies for children about important figures in American history such as this one.

Remarkable True-to-Life Illustrations by a Former Pilot

DSC_0003Craig Kodera’s realistic illustrations are outstanding. This former commercial pilot has an extraordinary talent to capture not only planes and boats, but people too. Both children and their parents will enjoy looking at the incredible true-to-life detail in each image. I have to wonder just how long it took him to complete the 31 incredible paintings in this book!

What This Book Teaches

Chester Nimitz and the Sea introduces children to Pearl Harbor and WWII – a subject that remains at the forefront of American history. They learn about Admiral Nimitz, a celebrated man, with inspiring integrity and courage, who stands as a military role model for America. His education, dedication and work ethic were essential  to his success, and this terrific message translates to all accomplishments one has in life. Reading this book may inspire kids to want to learn more about American history, uncover more American heroes and perhaps strive to be heroes one day themselves.

janes-167x300About the Author

Jane Sutcliffe is the author of nineteen children’s biographies. Her articles have been published in Highlights for Children, Boys’ Life, and Appleseeds. She is the author of Leonardo’s Monster, also published by Pelican. In addition to Chester Nimitz, Sutcliff has written biographies about Walt Disney, Paul Revere, Amelia Earhart, and John F. Kennedy. She serves as a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, actively participating in the New England chapter. She lives with her family and dog in Tolland, Connecticut.

KoderaAbout the Illustrator

Craig Kodera is a retired commercial pilot and professional artist. His ability to combine his talents in art with his interests in aviation have earned him the R.G. Smith Award for excellence in naval aviation art in 2001 and the Best of the Best award from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine in 2000. Kodera is also the Charter Vice President of the American Society of Aviation Artists and the illustrator of the Pelican title A Dream of Pilots. He lives in Clermont, Florida.

Further Learning

  1. Watch the trailer for the book.
  2. Research more about Admiral Nimitz.
  3. Find Pearl Harbor on a map as well as the country of Japan.
  4. Encourage your child to talk to a relative who remembers the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
  5. Visit an American History or WWII Museum.
  6. With children who are old enough, listen to FDR’s speech about the US declaring war with Japan.

For older readers, also check out these excellent books I’ve reviewed about war: Courage Has no Color, Caesar the War Dog and Why Do We Fight?