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Leonardo's Horse

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  297 ratings  ·  57 reviews
"A scintillating sliver of history. . . . An inventive introduction to the Renaissance and one of its masters." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"An unusual and surprisingly touching story . . . . An offbeat and intriguing read." (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review)

"At times sad, silly, and telling, this is a wholly entertaining book." (
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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This is a surprisingly touching story about the remarkable 24-foot-tall horse Leonardo da Vinci's sculpted for the duke of Milan. Only, he never finished it! War got in the way, and despite all his accomplishments, da Vinci is said to have lamented his unfinished horse even on his deathbed. Leonardo's horse was long forgotten until, in 1977, it was mentioned in a magazine story. Charlie Dent, an airline pilot and avid artist and art collector, read about it and decided he wanted to see ...more
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Young Artists & Dreamers / Young Readers Interested in da Vinci
Prolific children's author Jean Fritz, who has explored the lives of many historical figures in her titles - What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? , Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? , You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? - here turns her attention to the little-known tale of the horse that Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci created for the duke of Milan. That is to say, the horse he meant to create for the duke, but which (despite a clay model being made) was never cast, and which ...more
Debra Oehlberg
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I truly enjoyed this historical non-fiction book about the massive efforts, time, planning and finances it took to create the bronze horse that Leonardo so desperately desired to place in Milan. There is a lot of history presented in a way that older elementary and middle school students could appreciate. It would definitely be appropriate for teaching an art OR history lesson. In fact, this book would lend itself well across the curriculum for other areas, such as Science, for STEM education ...more
Fritz, J. (2001). Leonardo’s horse. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.

Leonardo’s Horse tells the story of a statue Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to build by the Duke of Milan. The Duke also hired Leonardo to take a variety of entertainment roles in the palace. His work on his horse was often interrupted. He visited stables and statues to observe, measure, and draw horses. After several years, da Vinci completed a twenty four foot clay model only to start other projects
Taylor Torgrimson
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Leonardo's Horse" is a story of a "dream" project of Leonardo da Vinci's that he had in his earlier life that was never completed. The tale begins with Leonardo as a young boy and tells of his dreams and desires as a young artist. Leonardo was called upon by the duke to build something so wonderful as a present to be given to Milan. He decided to make a statue of a horse that was so marvelous that everyone would know "Leonardo made that." He studied horses day and night for several months and ...more
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching-reading
A fellow teacher recommended Leonardo’s Horse to me for a social studies lesson. I was teaching a social studies unit on Leonardo Da Vinci and wanted to introduce various art projects to my students, inspired by his work. I read this story aloud to my second grade students. The story presented facts about Da Vinci’s life and work through an effective third-person narration.
The class truly enjoyed the detailed, colorful and informative writing and illustrations, as did I. The illustrations not
(NS) Brea M
Nov 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
*Starred Review* Gr. 4-7. The first part of this unusual book presents the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci, highlighting his work on a monumental statue of a horse, which, despite many sketches and the making, in 1493, of a 24-foot-high clay model, was never cast in bronze as planned. The story begins again in 1977, when American art lover Charles Dent read about Leonardo's horse. He dreamed of completing the statue and presenting it to the people of Italy from the people of America. Although ...more
Danielle Nasawang
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: t-l-307, childrens

Leonardo’s Horse was a book non-fiction children’s book that was written about a specific creation of Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci dreamed of building a huge horse for the duke of Milan but was never able to complete that dream. Nearly 500 years after his lifetime, his dream was brought to life and actually created! First off, the physical copy of the book itself is eye catching. It’s domed at the top, which actually is a key feature that’s actually explained in the book itself. Inside, the

Olivia Lagore
Most students will have heard of Leonardo da Vinci, but this book offers a new perspective with it's focus on the giant horse da Vinci planned to create and its mentions of some of his other, lesser known creations, such as the elaborate parties he was employed to give for the Duke of Milan. Fast forward to the future, a young man discovers Leonardo's old plans for the horse and decides to try to build it himself. Although he dies before being able to finish it, his friends, family, and ...more
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was ok

The book is gorgeous - beautifully shaped with the best quality, acid-free paper, and heavenly bronze metallic end papers. Printed in Hong Kong, sad to say. I wanted to love it, especially having seen the horse in Grand Rapids BUT... togas in 15th century Florence? Nooo! Bluto is wearing a toga in Animal House Pink had no connotation of effeminacy back then, either. It wouldn't until the 19th century.

Hudson Talbot does a great job with horses and his reproduction of Leonardo's drawings are

Sarah Maddaford
I love the shape of this book. At first, I was just surprised that it wasn't rectangular, but finding out that it echoes Charlie's dome makes it even better. It appears that the author collected her research from Charlie Dent's work to complete Leonardo's dream. I'm not surprised that Leonardo tried to create a bronze horse because much of his work was very naturalistic and realistic. The author and illustrator are both well qualified to create this book. The author is a well-known children's ...more
Sarah VanDyke
Great book! To be honest, I had never heard about Da Vinci's horse, but found it interesting to learn about the events leading up to its creation. It was inspiring to read about artist's getting involved to finish his dream. I was shocked that it was not completed until 1999. From my understanding, the book contains facts about Leonardo, Charles Dent and Nina Akamu and is cited at the end of the book, but part of me wonders about assumptions. It is mentioned how Leonardo constantly dreamed of ...more
Lisa Rathbun
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! The picture of Da Vinci on his deathbed dreaming about the horse he never sculpted is very touching. How amazing that the story repeated itself in modern times as Charles Dent died before he could finish the horse statue in honor of da Vinci. I read it to my kids, and one daughter exclaimed, "I want to go to Italy to see the horse!" I was able to tell her that one more horse had been cast, and it stands in the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, MI. ...more
Dec 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
After reading the abridged version in a 5th grade reading textbook, I decided to check out the full-length copy. Jean Fritz, probably one of the top writers for realistic fiction and biographies for young readers, outdid herself with this story. It's the biography of Leonardo da Vinci who grieved that he was never able to finish one of his masterpieces, a giant horse, for the city of Milan. Fast forward 500 years, an American sculptor, Dent, resurrects the dream for Leonardo's horse, and ...more
Rebecca Tenbrook
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this nonfiction book simply because it told a story about Leonardo da Vinci that we never hear. Most people know him for The Mona Lisa or The Last Supper but not many know that he had a dream to create a bronze horse. He thought about that horse often as he got older. Later on someone else learned about his passion and as a way to remember and honor Leonardo they began to construct a bronze horse to send to Italy. This book is just another example of how biographies only show a ...more
Nov 14, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was interesting in that I did not know much about Leonardo da Vinci's engineering side. He is so well known for his art and his famous paintings, but little is known about his curiosities that made him such a remarkable inventor. Charles Dent wants to create a horse sculpture to give to the town of Pisa, Italy and he sets out to design the perfect one. However time runs away and the finished product is not what was expected, so another artist must take over and completely rebuild the ...more
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! It not only tells the story of the giant horse sculpture of Leonard da Vinci, and its terrible destruction (a story I did not know), it also tells the story of the dream of Charles Dent, a pilot and artist who wished to fulfill Leonardo's dream. Mr. Dent's dream was completed by artist Nina Akamu. Finally, on September 10, 1999, exactly five hundred years to the day since the French invaded Milan and destroyed Leonardo's horse, the new, enormous horse sculpture -- a ...more
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
My son got this out of his school library, and it was one of the few books that he picked up to read by himself. He likes books, but it's usually only if a joint activity.

It's an interesting story about Leonardo and then there is a second story at the back about an artist who actually completes the horse. The illustrations are of the "Which is your favorite?" type.

This is the perfect, longish picture book for lazy morning in bed - drama, art, education - it has it all.
A beautiful and oddly emotionally touching non-fiction book about Leonardo Da Vinci’s unfinished, then later destroyed by war, enormous clay horse that sadly was never cast into bronze. Thankfully an article was read by Charles Dent many centuries later about Leonardo’s horse and he was moved to complete this dream for the renowned artist. Numerous years and helpful individuals later this vision was fulfilled and Leonardo’s stallion now motionlessly rides in Italy.
Elizabeth  Chang
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, picture, reviews, 3-stars
I had no idea about Leonardo's horse until I read this book. And just started out as a big project...that failed...but after Charles Dent and Nina Akamu started working on it and putting so much effort into it...the finished product of the bronze horse is SO much more...meaningful.

I really enjoyed reading the story! It's nice to know a little something more about Leonardo than his famous Mona Lisa painting.
Suzannah Thompson
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book introduces a project Da Vinci never finished. However, others continued his story and honored him in history.
The pictures in this book are incredible and detailed. They showed the many steps of every art undertaking. I loved how all the stories were connected.
I would use this book to teach art, specifically from a historical standpoint. Definitely recommend.
Eva Best
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow!! This is a story of Leonardo DaVinci's dream of making the horse for the emperor of Milan and was never completed. This story is not well known about Leonardo and really captures such great qualities about him! I loved this book and recommend this for any classroom!
Aleisha Boehm
Sep 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: informational
This book is adorable and a great way to learn about many different topics at once such as Leonardo da Vinci and the scuplting process. Great for children or adults who want a fun and eduactional read!
May 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was the first book of hers that I read. It is amazing. I read a lot of biographies as a child and this one took a very creative turn in biography. The binding is unusual and the book is very creative.
Katharine Ott
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
"Leonardo's Horse" - written by Jean Fritz and published in 2001 by G P Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers. Fritz is the queen of middle-grade biography and this little tidbit of a book is a good example of her brief showcases of historical times.
Apr 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book about the incredible creative mind of Leonardo da Vinci as well as the story of others assisting in the creation of a huge horse statue that was designed by Leonardo, but never actually completed.
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had known the story of Leonardo's horse that he was never able to complete, but didn't realize that in modern times his final vision was realized. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and its wonderful illustrations.
Kelsey Yates
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have never heard this story. Now I want to go to Michigan and see the 24 foot horse. Or Milan if I can swing it. The illustrations are beautiful. The story is too long for little children, but it is not heavy or dry.
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever visited Leonardo's horse? I have! It is massive, breath-taking, brilliant and beautiful.
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Jean Fritz was a children’s author with a fascination with writing historical fictions. She was born on November 16, 1915, in Hankow, China to missionary parents. After living in China for 13 years, Fritz and her family moved back to the United States. Beginning her career with an English degree, Fritz became an award-winning and respected author. She received an honor for every book that she ...more