HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Wings of an Eagle: The Young People’s Story of Michelangelo
Author: Anne Merriman Peck with Frank and Dorothy Getlein
Illustrator: Lili Rethi
Publisher: Turret Books, republished in 1983
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Peck, Anne Merriman, with Getlein, Frank and Dorothy. Wings of an Eagle: The Young People’s Story of Michelangelo (published in 1963 by Hawthorn Books Inc., 70 Fifth Ave., New York City, NY 10011). Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti-Simoni (1475-1564), commonly known simply as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance, born in Florence, Italy, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and since has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty. Despite his low opinion of painting, Michelangelo also created two of the most influential works of fresco in the history of Western art, namely the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. At the age of 74 he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica.
This book is one of a series of biographies for young people known as “Credo Books.” It is a good biography of a great artist. There are references to drinking wine and to the nudity of some of Michelangelo’s statues. Also, as Michelangelo was a devout Roman Catholic, and these books come from a Catholic publisher, specific mention is made of several Catholic beliefs and practices. However, emphasis is also given to the artist’s faith in God and acceptance of Christian principles. For example, it is pointed out that in his youth “The Bible was the favorite reading of this serious boy who had grown up with the Christian principles,” and that later on “He felt that the Florentines were rejecting Christian principles. He was disturbed by the pagan spirit of many Florentine festivals.” My edition was published for the Vatican Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and includes a special section about the historic occasion of bringing Michelangelo’s Pieta to be displayed in America. Other books in the series include biographies of Samuel de Champlain, Gregor Mendel, Guiseppe Verdi, and Philip H. Sheridan; and since the one about Genevieve Caulfield is listed as Credo Book #17, I assume that there were others as well.