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Cleonardo: The Little Inventor by Mary Grandpre - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Cleonardo: The Little Inventor

How do we encourage a child’s love of exploration and creation? By exploring this spirited, creative adventure of Leonardo’s fictional granddaughter.

Cleonardo: The Little Inventor

Author/Illustrator: Mary GrandPre

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine (2016)

Ages: 7 and up



Invention, family, cooperation, persistence, nature

Synopsis (From Amazon):

Cleonardo's father is an inventor. So was her grandfather, her great-grandfather, and all the great-greats before them. Cleo wants to be an inventor too. She tries to help her father in his workshop, but he never uses her great ideas. Can Cleo invent something big and important and perfect all by herself? This imaginative story of a father and his daughter brings the magic of creativity to little inventors everywhere.

Opening Lines:

Geonardo’s workshop was built on top of his house, which was built on top of a hill at the front of the mountains.

Like his parents and grandparents and great-greats before him, Geonardo was an inventor.

He hammered and welded metals of all kinds to build his big inventions for the little town where he lived with his father, Leonardo, and his daughter, Cleonardo Wren.

Favorite Lines:

Finally, Cleo Wren held a wondrous creation in her hands: a tiny whirligig. It had a fine propeller made of fallen dragonfly wings. She pulled the tangled stem to see what would happen . . .

Why I like this book:

In preparation for an inventor’s competition, Cleonardo uses sticky bug vine, wings, feathers, butterflies, and twigs, while her father uses more traditional materials of metal, wheels, and gears. Although not specifically juxtaposing nature and technology, I loved that the best invention combines them both. Anyone who has ever felt left out or wanted to impress a parent or teacher will identify with Cleonardo’s burning desire to spend time with her father and demonstrate to him her invention skills. The illustrations are amazingly detailed and could easily hang as independent works of art. There is also a fair bit of humor mixed into the illustrations, such as the portraits of “Neandernardo” and “Magellanardo.” This is a very touching story of the connection between a father and a daughter. Though its wordiness might not appeal to the younger listeners.

Related Activities:

Using Cleonardo’s inventiveness as a starting point, here are a couple of ideas for experimenting and playing with nature.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture suggestions see Susannah Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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