Before reading time tonight, we went on a family “outing” to the movies to watch a Fathom Event showing of “Florence and the Ufizzi Gallery”. It was suggested by our oldest’s history teacher, and we were not disappointed. After stocking up on popcorn, we were able to sit back in the movie theater and go on a tour of some of the greatest works of art in Florence, Italy – works by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, etc. Seeing these creations on the big screen was awe-inspiring. While the music was a bit too loud at times, it was well chosen and served to make the event feel even more monumental. There were a couple paintings toward the end that were especially gory and fascinating on that scale: the Medusa shield by Caravaggio, and Judith and Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi. Overall, a fully worthwhile experience, and our youngest actually made it all the way through (albeit with a little help from an iPad).
Inspired by our virtual tour of Florence, we made a last-minute substitution for tonight’s book to insert a favorite by Lawrence Anholt. Mr. Anholt has a series of picture books drawing on historical accounts to bring together great artists and children. “Leonardo and the Flying Boy” introduces us to Leonardo da Vinci and two of his young apprentices: Zoro (short for Zoroaste) and Salai. The book is mostly about Zoro, who is the “Flying Boy” of the book’s title. Alongside Zoro, the reader sees inside Leonardo’s workshop and notebooks, hears about his restless intellect and his countless inventions, and eventually experiences flying…if only briefly…when Zoro takes a nighttime joy ride with one of Leonardo’s many mechanical creations. Anholt’s books are very engaging, telling stories out of history and making famous artists accessible to children. I also highly recommend going on past the end of Anholt’s story to read about the history behind the book.
We were able to make some more headway this evening in Wuthering Heights as well, with some help from our trusty paints. By this time in our reading, we have lost the elder Catherine Linton (nee: Earnshaw), her sister-in-law (Isabella), and her older brother (Hindley). Heathcliff has already wrought significant emotional (and financial) damage on Linton and Earnshaw alike, has turned his nephew Hareton into an uneducated brute, and is well on his way to causing further devastation. It’s a bleak story, but the richness of the writing makes it too entertaining to look away.