Mona Lisa. The name alone brings images to mind of the iconic painting. This second story in the fantasy/sci-fi Lucy Nightingale Adventure Series capitalizes on the aura surrounding the artistic masterpiece. Book one, The Crystal Navigator, (2014) also has a focus on art.
I jumped right in and read MONA LISA’S GHOST as my introduction to the series. There were pieces of the first story that I caught on to quickly and had no problem immersing myself in this newest adventure. The plot is perfect for lovers of science, time travel, and art history. Others who take a chance will become a fan after finishing the tale.
Lucy makes a strong female character while Sam, her partner stays behind and gives her encouragement through his superphone invention. It was nice to see the bulk of the plot falling mostly on Lucy. She has to deal with many action packed and tension filled situations as this sample shows:
Sweat stung her eyes and trickled down her back. Her hands grasped the sides of the ladder so tightly that they lost feeling. Something rattled, chunks of concrete crumbled, the screws holding the upper part of the ladder popped out and splashed into the water. Unsecured, the upper part of the ladder pulled out of the wall and snapped back, dangling Lucy over whatever sightless, evil thing swished in the water below.
The twenty-two chapters fly by and would be perfect for a read-aloud in the classroom or at home. There’s mystery and excitement along with imparting some interest in art history. Many extensions for further study of this painting will come about for readers. The science, both real an imagined, is never watered down, but always thought provoking. There are even doses of humor thanks to the many dialog exchanges among the characters.
I’m sure Leonardo would also give this one a thumbs-up.
THE OFFICIAL WORD ON THE PLOT: Lucy Nightingale and her genius friend, Sam Winter have formed SLARP, (Sam and Lucy’s Anomalies Research Project,) to investigate odd happenings in the universe. They find their first case while watching a class video about the newly-scanned Mona Lisa. The experiment to measure the paint layers with a Spectrographic Scanner has had terrible consequences. Lucy and Sam are horrified by what they see. The painting seems to be exploding before their eyes. Purple clouds swirl through the once-sunny landscape, Lisa is crying, and letters float in her right eyeball. If that weren’t reason enough to investigate, one of their classmates, shy Melissa Blackwood, claims to be the reincarnation of Lisa Gherardini, the real Mona Lisa. She tells Lucy that she has come back to get the portrait her husband paid for, but which Leonardo never delivered to her. Then, the painting vanishes without a trace.
Like twenty-first century versions of 007 and Q in Ian Fleming’s James Bond Series, Lucy and Sam embark on a perilous adventure to find the painting before it self-destructs. Equipped with Sam’s superphone, the Quetzal, Lucy travels through the phantom-infested catacombs under Paris, down unexplored, underground rivers, and back to France in 1517 to meet with Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Luce where he is working for the French king. If the facts of the mystery they solve were ever made public, it would stun the world and change the face of Quantum Physics forever.
WHO IS NANCY KUNHARDT LODGE? I have a PhD in Renaissance Art History and taught at universities in the U.S. and Italy. My aim is to inspire children to read by bringing art and artists to life. I believe the best way to captivate a child’s interest is through humor. Therefore, I try to present art history and science, along with messages of empowerment and self-esteem, with as much wit as possible.
Coming up next week is another…
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