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

by Jane Sutcliffe

Other authors: John Shelley (Illustrator)

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Jane Sutcliffe’s Stone Giant: Michelangelo’s David and How He Came to Be, is an interesting look at the story behind one of the world’s most famous works of art. The illustrations are beautiful and remind me, anyway, of Tomie De Paola’s Strega Nona, with similar colors. I imagine they are representative of Renaissance Italy, with muted colors and the light of the sun. Stone Giant takes us back to the days before Michelangelo saved Florence and carved his famous statue. The block of marble that he used had been sitting in Florence, partially carved, for almost forty years. Even Leonardo da Vinci had turned down the city officials when they asked him to create something from “The Giant”, as it became known. The rest of the story details Michelangelo’s painstaking work and the end result. Sutcliffe has written other non-fiction works as well as two dozen biographies for young readers. She became interested in the David after visiting Florence. Her bibliography includes a handful of works I was already familiar with, and several about art history that I would like to explore. Overall I believe the book to be well researched; Sutcliffe does not claim to be an expert and even writes, in the Author’s Note, “some experts say…” when talking about the crown of gold leaves he may or may not have worn. She mentions the experts to let the reader know that she is not one, rather a writer who had an interest in this topic. Sutcliffe tells an enchanting story, and makes it come alive. The story is told in chronological order and takes us from the beginning, when the stone was just sitting in Florence, through the years of work put in by Michelangelo, to the final product. The Author’s Note also includes what happened later, when the statue fell into disrepair and neglect. One item did catch my attention, however, and I am not sure what to do with it. Sutcliffe starts the book by identifying the stone as “a giant in the city of Florence”. She goes on to write, still on page one, “It stood three times as tall as any man in the city. It was the color of cream. And it was a troublemaker”. How can a stone be a troublemaker? It certainly caught my attention, which I am sure she meant it to do, but I am not sure I like having the giant stone, waiting to be carved, cast in human terms. She ends the book with the same line, “There was a giant in the city of Florence”, and the illustration is the statue itself, facing the city of Florence. Because of the writing style of the book, I almost said, the statue itself, looking out onto the city of Florence…Overall, a good read, highly entertaining and also a personable look at Michelangelo himself. ( )
  jennyirwin | Mar 1, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Sutcliffeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Shelley, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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There was a giant in the city, and it was a troublemaker. The enormous block of marble had irked the people of Florence for almost forty years. No one knew what to do with it until a young artist named Michelangelo came along.

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