Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci

Last updated Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Author: Gene Barretta
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0805087036
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2015

Synopsis: In 1781, Thomas Paine came up with a model for a single-span bridge; in 1887, Adolf Eugen Fick made the first pair of contact lenses; and in 1907, Paul Cornu built the first helicopter. But Leonardo da Vinci thought of all these ideas more than five hundred years ago! At once an artist, inventor, engineer, and scientist, da Vinci wrote and drew detailed descriptions of what would later become hang gliders, automobiles, robots, and much more. Gene Barretta cleverly shows how Leonardo's ideas--many inspired by his love of nature--foreshadowed modern inventions, offering a window into the future.

Note to readers:
•  For most of this book, the modern inventions are on the left page and Leonardo's original inventions are on the right page.
•  On Leonardo's pages, his notes are written in backwards script. Use a MIRROR to decipher the notes.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Which of the ideas on the cover do you think were invented by Leonardo da Vinci?
•  Do you like to make thinks? Which materials do you like to use - paper, crayons, Legos, or something else?
•  What would you like to invent?


•  fascinated - to attract and hold attentively by a unique power, personal charm, unusual nature, or some other special quality ...
•  revolutionary - brand new ideas
•  visionary - thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom
•  pier - platform built on stilts jutting out into a body of water, used as a boat dock, a place from which to fish, or as an entertainment center
•  truss - a framework, typically consisting of rafters, posts, and struts, supporting a roof, bridge, or other structure
•  compressing - flatten by pressure; squeeze; press

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What was the source of most of Leonardo da Vinci's ideas?
•  How did most of Leonardo's ideas finally get made? Did he build them himself?
•  Of Leonardo’s ideas, which one is your favorite?
•  If you had all the resources you needed, what would you invent?

Craft ideas:
•  Create a plan for an invention based on an animal (like a bird, or a turtle).
•  Make a paper airplane & decorate it.
•  Write a secret note using Leonardo's mirror writing style.
•  Check out our Pinterest for craft suggestions!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!