Synopses & Reviews
The Mona Lisa Caper
is based on true events that began to unfold on Monday, August 21, 1911, when Vincenzo Perugia shocked the world by stealing the most famous of the many treasures in the Louvre.
Though Vincenzo was a thief, he meant well. He simply wanted to return the painting to the Italian people in the mistaken belief that it had been stolen from them. Eventually, inevitably, Vincenzo was captured in Florence and put on trial. Italians gave him their hearts for his patriotism. In fact, he received so much food, wine, clothing, and furniture, that he had to be moved to a larger cell!
Throughout Rick Jacobsons lively text, Mona Lisa herself narrates the story of her trip back to the city of her creation. The playful art Rick has painted along with his wife, Laura Fernandez, heightens the fun. Not only is it Keystone-Cops funny, it is a sound introduction to the painting that continues to delight, amaze, and mystify hundreds of years after Leonardo da Vincis death.
"In this captivating tale based on an actual incident in 1911, an Italian workman breaks the law to 'save' the title painting. Although she cannot speak, Mona Lisa narrates the story of her unsuccessful abduction by Vincenzo Perugia. Believing that France's ownership of da Vinci's painting amounted to theft, Perugia vowed to bring her home to Italy. From Mona Lisa's point of view, Vincenzo is a friend, and the trip to Florence a vacation ('hanging on a wall year after year is not as easy as you might think'). The book is brief, but Jacobson's (Picasso: Soul on Fire) dense text brims with suspenseful details, and he humorously imagines how a painting might feel (describing their retreat through the Italian countryside, she says, 'A playful gust of wind loosened my wrapping and suddenly I could see.... We rushed past trees and I recognized them. They mirrored the ones painted behind me'). In greens and golds, the artists depict the long shadows of the poplars at dawn, the tiny automobile containing Vincenzo and his treasure traveling between them. Readers learn in an informative afterword of Perugia's strange fate (far from tragic, thankfully) once his ruse is uncovered. Jacobson and Fernandez's beautifully drafted watercolors convey a sense of excitement while capturing many details of the era. Jacobson wisely resists the temptation to teach or preach in his unusual tale; he merely delights in the events, and readers will, too. Ages 5-7." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Rick Jacobson and Laura Fernandez are an award-winning design team and illustrators in their own right. Their work appears in corporate and private collections as well as in those of the French Government and The Royal Geographical Society in London, England. Together they operate a studio, the Jacobson Fernandez Partnership. They often work as a team on joint projects, including their thirteen published books. Rick and Laura live in Toronto with their three children.