The Stone Giant – A Picture Book Review for PPBF

Today, I’m reviewing the non-fiction picture book, Stone Giant – Michelangelo’s David And How He Came To Be. 

Back in my college days (I meant years) I sat in a dimly lit auditorium with my classmates, learning art history. Slide after slide flashed up on the screen as I jotted down everything the instructor said.

“And now class, let’s take a look at the great sculpture of David by Michelangelo.”

I glanced up from my notes and gasped. Rising strong and tall from a marble platform stood an incredibly handsome man with (pardon the pun) perfectly chiseled features. Sigh… The instructor went on to tell us the location of the statue, the background of Michelangelo, and the material he carved the statue from. What the instructor didn’t tell us was the remarkable story of how Michelangelo was chosen for this task — a critical piece of historic significance covered in today’s brilliantly illustrated picture book.

Title – Stone Giant – Michelangelo’s David and how he came to be

Written by – Jane Sutcliffe

Illustrated by – John Shelley

Published by – Charlesbridge  2014

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme –  Art history, Michelangelo’s David

Opening – There was a giant in the city of Florence. It had been there for nearly forty years. And no one knew what to do about it. The giant was an enormous block of stone–marble, to be exact. It stood three times as tall as any man in the city. It was the color of cream. And it was a troublemaker.

Amazon Review – view it HERE. No one wanted the “giant.” The hulking block of marble lay in the work yard, rained on, hacked at, and abandoned—until a young Michelangelo saw his David in it. This is the story of how a neglected, discarded stone became a masterpiece for all time. It is also a story about art—about an artist’s vision and process, and about the ways in which we humans see ourselves reflected in art.

Why do I like this book? What I like is that this book doesn’t begin on the day Michelangelo was asked to carve the statue of David. The book begins with the history of the giant block of marble, resting in the city of Florence. I was surprised to learn that other artists came before Michelangelo. I was more surprised to learn that Leonardo da Vinci was asked to sculpt David and turned down the request. The illustrations are thoughtful, brimming with details, expressive, and perfectly fitting to this story.
Watch the book trailer here.

Learn about Jane Sutcliffe HERE.

Lear about John Shelley HERE.

Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

What would you carve if you were given a great block of marble? Please let me know in the comments.

Writertales Gets A Blog Name Change

Before starting this blog, I googled my name. To my shock, up came over 7 million results! Yes you read that right… Seven million sites! I wondered how people would find me. I knew no editor or agent had that much time on their hands to page through such a long list to find me. Of course I blamed my husband (in jest) for not having a unique and memorable last name. I asked the members of my writing groups what their thoughts were on writers blogging under their name vs. a catchy title. Surprisingly, of the replies I received, more than 3/4 of the responses advised me to use a catchy title. I came up with a long list to google, and all but one were taken–thus Writertales was born.

So, why the name change?

At a picture book webinar I attended this past week, the presenting editor took a moment to talk about the importance of platform. When she came to the topic of blogs, she paused to state, what she considered, one of the top rules writers should follow.

If you want agents and editors to find you quickly, (note the key word – ‘quickly’) use your own name. Don’t get cute here.

I asked her what to do if you happened to share your name with 7 million other people.

“Add your middle initial,” she said.

A new Google search produced 1,560,000 results. Sure the shocking number took a nose dive, but not enough for my liking.

“What if over one and half million people share that name, too?” I asked the editor.

“Then you’ll have to use your maiden name together with your married name,” she said, “or publish under a pen name.”

The problem is that a pen name wouldn’t be MY name, and I don’t want to see a fictitious name on my writing.

Easy choice.

I am saying goodbye to Writertales and ask you to say hello to Leslie Leibhardt Goodman.