The Mona Lisa Vanishes by Nicholas Day

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The Mona Lisa Vanishes by Nicholas Day (Random House, September 2023) is a nonfiction middle grade story about the famous Mona Lisa. With alternating chapters telling the stories of the painting’s creation and its 1911 theft, The Mona Lisa Vanishes manages to capture the attention of a young reader with a friendly and humorous tone, as well as a sense of mystery that makes the unfolding of this true account all the more exciting.

Rather than being a straightforward account of the Mona Lisa theft in August 1911, the book incorporates the history of the art into the story. It gives context to the painting as it highlights what makes the portrait of Lisa Gherardini unique among Renaissance art, as well as how it ended up in France. In addition, as the strange mystery of the theft is developed throughout the book, we see just how the aftermath of the theft made this piece of art a legend.

With the skill of a storyteller and the facts of a historian, Nicholas Day manages to twist these events and the entire history and legacy of the Mona Lisa into a coherent and fascinating nonfiction account. It reads like a novel, with a colorful cast of characters and a bizarre combination of circumstances. Illustrator Brett Helquist has added his talent to the pages with humorous illustrations that nicely complement the text. From start to finish, The Mona Lisa Vanishes delights the reader with history storytelling at its finest!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance review copy of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Reviewed on August 11, 2023

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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