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My eight year old chose Leonardo da Vinci for her school project, and this has been far more useful than many far more expensive books. Lots of interesting facts and written in a style which is appealing to children. We will certainly be referring to this series again for future projects.
My 7 year old daughter devours the novels and this book is a great add on. I did have to read it with her as its not gripping like the stories. Reading the non-fiction together actually worked out better as we could discuss it as we read and it would often lead to extended conversations on the subject. The non-fiction books are all jam packed with information and I believe the kids retain it much better after reading the story which gives them a good point of reference. The only mistake we made was not ordering the 'non-fiction companion' at the same time as the fiction book as they really should go together to take advantage of their peak excitement about the story.
These companion books are very well written. This one was his favorite, I think because it has a more personal and biographical side to it. They don't create the same excitement level as the fiction stories but the history lessons are encompassing enough that our son has been able to teach us a few things about Italy, da Vinci, and life in his time. Now our son wants to visit Venice to see where he lived, this raising of curiosity is enough for me to recommend the book. He also read through cover to cover, which can be tough for six year olds when it comes to non-fiction (fiction tends to flow better, so he always reads those straight through). The author has really hit on a winning formula for making book-learning fun for younger children.