Mary GrandPre's Cleonardo: STEM with Delicate Blossoms

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Cleonardo by Mary GrandPre

Caldecott winner Mary GrandPre may be best known as the illustrator of the US prints of the HARRY POTTER series, but her work extends far beyond the boy wizard's adventures, including pieces in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and the Wall Street Journal. However, CLEONARDO, THE LITTLE INVENTOR is the first time I can recall that GrandPre is also the author as well as the illustrator.

Cleonardo Wren is a young girl who comes from a long line of inventors, including her father Geonardo, her grandfather Leonardo -- all the way back to their ancestor, Neandernardo! She loves helping her father in his workshop, but with the town's Grand Festival of Inventions coming up, she finds she's more hindrance than help as her father tries to come up with a winning idea. So she takes to the forest to build things on her own out of the materials nature provides.

Ultimately, the story brings the two back together at the festival, when the father finds himself needing help that only his daughter is prepared to bring.

CLEONARDO is a story delicately told, set against a backdrop of intricately woven details. Each page looks like it could be the master plan for a new Jim Shore sculpture -- and who wouldn't want a shadowbox carved to look like this wraparound cover? It's a tale that could easily be the first step for young girls on the path to STEM careers.

5.0 / 5.0