I want to thank Chicago Review Press for providing a review copy of Michelangelo for Kids.
Michelangelo for Kids (Chicago Press Review, 2016) is a little outside of my usual review fare, but it has several qualities that excited me to review it. First, I love art, and have a special interest in Michelangelo. After all, Michelangelo’s extraordinary life falls within the period of the Reformation, overlapping with both Girolamo Savonarola of Florence and Martin Luther of Germany. Second, the biography / activities book is written by Simonetta Carr, author of the lovely Christian Biographies for Young Readers series. Third, the Chicago Press Review “For Kids” series is fabulous for 4th-8th grade, and we use the books regularly as a part of our history studies.
I loved reading Michelangelo for Kids. I learned a lot about Michelangelo and his work. Though I majored in art, and in the last few years I read quite a bit about Michelangelo in scholarly biographies of Martin Luther while researching for When Lightning Struck!, there was much I didn’t know. Simonetta Carr does a masterful job of explaining how Michelangelo’s faith changed due to the Reformation, and how he was able to work directly for several popes while creating artwork that challenged papal ideas of Christ and Scripture. She also diplomatically addresses his family and personal life, answering the modern-day charges of impropriety with logic and care…..
I think it’s rare to find an art history book for young people that addresses the faith and relationships of an artist with such care and such attention. Kids will have a clear picture of who Michelangelo was and how his personal life affected his artwork. The work of Michelangelo was quite revolutionary religiously, and was an integral part of the Renaissance. Carr mentions the pagan images created by Michelangelo for patrons, but focuses on his Christian work and images.
The text of each chapter is broken into sub-sections with lots of images and sidebars. The pages of the book are thick and glossy, the writing is engaging (and not at all condescending), and the images are fascinating.
A note about nudity: Michelangelo’s work contained a good deal of male nudity. There is also one picture (that I noticed) which contains a statue with the bared top of a female figure. If nudity is offensive, there are several ways we deal with it here. For art books I wish to preserve in their entirety, I usually cut an index card (because they’re thick) to cover the offending area and tape it on with clear tape. Especially on glossy pages, I can usually remove the tape and card later if I choose to do so. I personally feel like it would be a pity for kids to miss out on artwork due to modesty issues, but I also feel strongly about modesty issues. The index cards are an easy solution for me.
Michelangelo for Kids is a wonderful resource. This is a great artist study for kids ages 9-14!
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~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.