About the Book
A propulsive work of narrative nonfiction about how the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre, how the robbery made the portrait the most famous artwork in the world—and how the painting by Leonardo da Vinci should never have existed at all.
On a hot August day in Paris, just over a century ago, a desperate guard burst into the office of the director of the Louvre and shouted, La Joconde, c’est partie ! The Mona Lisa, she’s gone!
No one knew who was behind the heist. Was it an international gang of thieves? Was it an art-hungry American millionaire? Was it the young Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, who was about to remake the very art of painting?
Travel back to an extraordinary period of revolutionary turn-of-the-century Paris. Walk its backstreets. Meet the infamous thieves—and detectives—of the era. And then slip back further in time and follow Leonardo da Vinci, painter of the Mona Lisa , through his dazzling, wondrously weird life. Discover the secret at the heart of the Mona Lisa —the most famous painting in the world should never have existed at all.
Here is a middle-grade nonfiction, with black-and-white illustrations by Brett Helquist throughout, written at the pace of a thriller, shot through with stories of crime and celebrity, genius and beauty.
Okay, I know I am not the target audience for this book, but I loved it and I learned SO MUCH. The information is snappy and interesting. The author injects a lot of humor into the story, and enough sarcasm to keep this 40-something entertained. Despite the title, this book gives just as much information about DaVinci and the history of the time in which the Mona Lisa was painted and stolen as it does the actual crime itself. As a reader, you know right away that the painting is being stolen, and how it is stolen. But the bits and pieces of the how, what, and who are revealed as the story progresses, along with the unlikely story of both the artist and the subject of what has become the most famous painting in the world.
Throught the fast-paced book, the author jumps back and forth in the story, adding to the alure and mystery of the heist and the attempt to find both the painting and the criminal mastermind behind the heist. Some of my favorite quotes, presented without context and in a jumbled order:
“The theory of the consumate professional had a flaw. Technically it had a couple of flaws. The first was that Adam Worth was dead. (It was a significant flaw).”
“Leonardo da Vinci: he does boneheaded ting sjust like the rest of us.”
“In England, eraders wanted detectives like Sherlock Holmes. In France, readers took the side of thieves.”
Funny, smart, and informative, The Mona Lisa Vanishes is a great, accessible look at the biggest art heist of the time – a heist everyone thought couldn’t be done.
About the Author:
Nicholas Day is the author of The Mona Lisa Vanishes, a middle-grade book of narrative nonfiction about the theft of the Mona Lisa. For adults, he’s the author of Baby Meets World, a work about the science and history of infancy, which Mary Roach called “a perfect book.” He lives in Western Massachusetts with his family.