Simonetta Carr’s contribution to the popular “For Kids” series presents the great artist as not only as a true “Renaissance man” but a man of deep faith.
Michelangelo for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities by Simonetta Carr. Chicago Review Press, 2016, 130 pages including index, notes, and glossary.
Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12
Recommended for: ages 10-15
We’ve recommended books from the Chicago Reviews “For Kids” biographies of great scientists, artists, and writers (see our reviews of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein), but RedeemedReaders may be surprised to see a familiar name as author. Simonetta Carr is best known for her biographies of heroes of church history, but she was born and has studied in Italy and has a long-standing interest in art. Sketching “the Life and Ideas” of one of the universally-recognized great artists of all time would be a daunting ask. From a sickly lad in Florence with outsized self-confidence to an octogenarian in Rome beset with ills and spiritual soul-searchings, we trace his journey by some amazing achievements. Besides a sculptor and painter, he was a poet and architect–in fact, his architectural designs may have influenced that discipline even more than his painting and sculpture affected art.
But Carr also finds the man behind the marble. As she acknowledges in her introduction, there’s a wealth of material about Michelangelo to draw from, not least his own letters and poetry. As such, his private life is not as mysterious as, say, Shakespeare’s, but some aspects of his it are often misconstrued. She addresses, somewhat obliquely, the rumors that the artist was a homosexual (almost certainly not), and emphasizes his wholesome relationships, such as a close friendship with the brilliant and saintly Vittoria Colonna, the lady he called “the soul and the heart of my fragile life.” Though the sheer volume of his commissions and achievements may overwhelm a fifth- or sixth-grader, readers will certainly come away with a fuller appreciation of this original “Renaissance Man.” The “21 Activities” which are a feature of all “For Kids” books, range from simple to complex and can enhance a reader’s understanding of technique, history, and even science.
Overall rating: 4.5 (out of 5)