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Summary: Jeremy's dad Carl is a genius scientist who loves conducting experiments. Having a curious dad was great. Well, until he turned himself into a 9-foot Orangutan. They lost their apartment, Carl lost his job, and they were driven out of New York. With nowhere to go, they decide to unravel a mystery from 1519. According to the legend, Leonardo Da Vinci came to the New World in 1519, the year he died. Like any good scientists, they seek to debunk myth and find Leonardo's final resting place! This illustrated story weaves history, biography, and family into a middle grade fantasy adventure.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, read aloud book, independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 9 to 12
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: Jeremy ("Jem") tells a great story. He and his dad have a great relationship, which makes for a sweet story. He also gives us some great laugh-out-loud moments, too. That said, I would describe the book as so-so. I loved all the interesting information about Leonardo Da Vinci, but the wackiness was too wacky and detracted from the best parts of the story.
Pros: Humorous moments add fun to this father-son adventure. Readers who enjoy mysteries will also enjoy the quest to find Leonardo Da Vinci's last notebook.
Cons: Readers who want more realistic 'time travel' may not enjoy the more fantastic elements of this story.
Borrow or Buy: My inclination is to say "skip," because it is a bit quirky and the truly wonderful parts of the story get buried in the bizarren-ess. That said, I can also see it appealing to young readers who want something different that is NOT what everybody else is reading.
Educational Themes: There are lots of details about Leonardo Da Vinci, his scientific interests and curiosity. Having a book with illustrations of Da Vinci's works would be a nice companion for drawing out the great material in this book.