#104 – Leonardo’s Secret: Clean Up Your Act! by Clarence & Desta Sheridan

4.5 Stars 

When Leonardo da Vinci, a busboy, was asked to make turtle soup one of the turtles begs for his life.  It’s Tuttle, a turtle who has lived so long he evolved into an independent thinking and speaking mastermind.  Tuttle tries to convince Leonardo that there is a big world out there, and he could show Leonardo all about it, if he would just take a chance. 

This is the first book in a series of children’s books to follow the life of ‘Tuttle the Turtle.’  In each new book, Tuttle will influence the famous and the infamous throughout history.  Leonardo de Vinci is Tuttle’s first famous individual.

Leonardo da Vinci is a young man working as a busboy when he finds Tuttle close to becoming turtle soup.  Tuttle convinces Leonardo to leave the restaurant and take a job with Verrocchio, an inventor, who usually invents for the Medici family who rule the city.  When Lorenzo “the Magnificent” Medici needs something, Verrocchio waits for Leonardo to invent a new contraption.  Leonardo can only make these because of Tuttle’s vast knowledge and experience, but no one knows about Tuttle except Leonardo.

Lorenzo’s spoilt daughter cannot believe Leonardo could possibly be inventing anything without a formal education, like her own.  For some reason this really vexes Catherine.  She has her personal assistant spy on Leonardo, but Isabella finds out nothing.

The Golden Fall Festive Lorenzo stages each year, is happening soon.  Lorenzo needs a special invention from Verrocchio, but we do not know what Lorenzo needs, nor does Leonardo or Tuttle.  Still, Leonardo has ideas, as does Tuttle, so they enter their secret room to invent a new contraption for Lorenzo.  One of them makes the ruler very happy and his daughter extremely unhappy.

I liked this story very much.  I think the story is well-written and has humor, surprises, dramatic moments, and is simply fun to read.  Leonardo’s Secret gives kids a side of Leonardo da Vinci they can relate to and see as a human and not just someone in their history or science book.  The illustrations in the Kindle version are black and white and have fullness to them.  Maybe the correct thing to say is they have dimension.  Leonardo is lively, though bug-eyed, and looks as close to alive as an illustration can.  Online, at the book’s website, the same illustrations look sort of like clay-mation.  The illustrations are simply lively, even in black and white.

The only thing I did not like was the ending.  It came on suddenly like an old picture that pops up a sign saying “The End.”  There is at least one plot left hanging.  What happens to Catherine’s suspicions of Leonardo?  Does she ever figure out he is getting help from a turtle, inform her father and then shine in his eyes?  Did her Isabella ever find out anything from spying?  How does Tuttle leave Leonardo to go on to the next famous person in history?  There are so many questions left unanswered that book two won’t answered unless it, too, is about Leonardo. Plus, a good story does not need to state “The End.”  In a good story, the reader knows when it is the end.  There is a natural end that arrives after all conflicts are resolved; all loose threads neatly tied.

That said, I still really enjoyed Leonardo’s Secret: Clean up Your Act!  I hope Tuttle makes a second visit to Leonardo.  Until then, I highly recommend Leonardo’s Secrets: Clean up Your Act!  However, I have no idea what the sub-title is about; Clean up Your Act!  Leonardo’s secret is Tuttle.  How Leonardo is to clean up his act . . . now I get it, but cannot give it away. Leonardo’s SecretClean up Your Act! is a lively, fun read that kids are going to enjoy reading.  The authors know kids well, maybe from working with Disney.  They understand what kids like to read and made enjoyable characters with distinctive voices the reader can care about.  I think this will be a favorite series in libraries, with kids, and with parents who can know their child is reading something worthwhile.  (100th post)

 Leonardo’s Secret: Clean Up Your Act!

Authors: Clarence and Desta Sheridan
Illustrator: Clarence Sheridan
Publisher: Clarence Sheridan 
Release Date: October 29, 2011 
ISBN: 978-0-9663-8642-7 
Available as eBook 
Ages: 8 - 12

. . I did not review the iPad version of Leonardo’s Secret: Clean up Your Act! But, I have been told that this version has 3D artwork, animation and an audio enhanced glossary. The introductory price for the iPad version is $1.99 (subject to change). A sample of the animation can be seen HERE!

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2 thoughts on “#104 – Leonardo’s Secret: Clean Up Your Act! by Clarence & Desta Sheridan

  1. Pingback: the written down has no reason to happen again – fragments | Clemens Buur

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