We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.
Stone Giant: Michelangelo’s David And How He Came To Be
Written by: Jane Sutcliffe Illustrated by: John Shelley
Published by: Charlesbridge, 2014 ISBN: 1580892957 (ISBN13: 9781580892957)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
As the title indicates, this is not really a picturebook biography of the world-famous artist/sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti – but rather highlights the birth of David in Florence and how it came into being.
It all began with a huge slab of marble right smack in the city of Florence. The city officials had this brilliant idea of having Goliath’s David created from this stone as a reminder that God protects the weak and the underdog, pretty much how Florence perceived itself at the time as it fought against more powerful kingdoms.
Considered largely a nuisance, even the likes of Leonardo da Vinci refused to carve David from what’s left of this gigantic stone that has been left outside to the mercy of the elements. Michelangelo, who grew up in Florence and making a name for himself in Rome, was tasked to do the job. See the image above – I love how the artist used framing as a very effective technique in illustrating the narrative.
The artist also inserted original sketches from Michelangelo seamlessly into the narrative. I was also especially taken by the sparse and distilled language that Sutcliffe used throughout the story, yet it packs an emotional punch. An example would be when she described Michelangelo’s single-minded pursuit and tireless work to find David in the huge slab of stone:
Some nights he was too tired to undress and slept in his clothes. In the morning he began again. He worked from the front of the stone inward. Slowly David began to emerge. Here was a hand. There was a knee. It was as if the artist were pulling David out of the stone where he had been hiding.
In just a few words, Sutcliffe captured the entire creative process used by most sculptors as they try to breathe life into an inert piece of stone. The book also includes a fairly detailed Author’s Note and a Bibliography/Reference list for those who wish to know more. I also managed to find this gorgeous video clip that features the original Michelangelo in Florence, Italy. Enjoy!