Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Review: Mona Lisa's Ghost by Nancy Kunhardt Lodge

Lucy Nightengale Adventure Series, Book Two
by Nancy Kunhardt Lodge
Wilwahren Press
October 2017
Middle Grade Fantasy / Mystery
192 pages

What would you do if a classmate claimed to be the reincarnation of the real Mona Lisa, and that she is going to steal it because Leonardo never gave it to her way back in 1504?
Lucy Nightingale doesn’t believe her friend, Melissa. In fact, she suspects Melissa might be delusional, or at least brainwashed. But when the painting vanishes without a trace, Lucy and her best friend, brainy Sam Winter, embark on a harrowing adventure to save their friend and find the painting before it self-destructs. Yes, the painting is not well. Just before it was stolen, the Louvre Museum scientists used a scanning machine to measure the paint layers. The machine set off a molecule-smashing syndrome which will suck it into a Black Hole if someone doesn’t rescue it by injecting it with healthy molecules. This fantasy mystery is SLARP’s first case, (SLARP standing for Sam and Lucy’s Anomalies Research Project.) Like modern day 007 and Q, Lucy is the brave field agent and Sam is the funny inventor. Lucy and Sam solve a mystery that would shock the world if it were ever made public.
Mona Lisa’s Ghost is the second book in the Lucy Nightingale Adventure Series. As a former professor of Art History with a PhD in Renaissance Art History, my aim is to bring art and artists to life for children. If there is a message in this book it is to see beyond the surface of people to their true essence, as Leonardo did when he succeeded in capturing Lisa’s playful, yet mysterious soul.

A Mom's Choice Award Winner!


This is the second book in the Lucy Nightengale Adventure Series, and I read this one before grabbing the first. I would, however, recommending reading the first book first, since the events and characters in book two build off of the story in book one.

Lucy and Sam have started up SLARP (Sam and Lucy's Anomalies Research Project) and hit their first 'case'. During a class discussion at school about the results of a scientific scan on the Mona Lisa, Lucy notices a chaotic, stormy, and purple swirl engulfing the background of the painting. And it makes her feel terrible. Sam explains that its a problem with the molecules within the painting, and the only way to save it is for Lucy to head to Paris and see what she can do. While there, Lucy runs into a classmate, who claims to be the reincarnation of the woman portrayed in the Mona Lisa, and she's determined to steal her painting back. Even Lucy isn't ready for the adventure which ensues after that.

This is a fun book packed to the gills with adventure, imagination and even some wonderful art and history tidbits. With a bit of the feel of the relationship between James Bond and Q, Lucy and Sam head off to save the Mona Lisa from turning into a black hole. There's definitely a huge amount of fantasy thrown in with the action and scientific nods. A massive amount. Everything from shape-shifting monsters to aliens to time travel. . .and anything else the imagination allows. . .is tossed in. Oh, and we can't forget Lucy's mentor, the Wise One or a dog from another planet who loves to sit in a rocking chair.

There are super-duper amazing gadgets created by Sam, all of which are top secret and could be stolen by some unknown evil group. . .if the group even exists. And Lucy has her own 'super power' of high frequency thought, which brings things into existence and gives her a direct, mental link to Sam in the most dire of circumstances. Sam, meanwhile, is a class all of his own, and while Lucy dives from one perilous situation into the next, he is off to some top-secret conference up north, which was founded by a Viking long ago. As said, there is a lot going on, which shoves at imaginations borders and ventures beyond. At times, it gets a little chaotic, some questions are left open or unexplained, and more science friendly readers will question a thing or two, but the tale is nothing if not fast-paced and provides an explosive ride.

On top of all of this, art and history facts weave into the mystery and teach readers something along the way. In this book, the history behind the Mona Lisa as well as an introduction to Leonardo da Vinci flows amidst the fun. The author does a wonderful job at keeping the historic facts from becoming dry, while making sure some sit and won't be forgotten. It's an intriguing and clever mixture, which is sure to help kids gain a greater appreciation for art and the artists.

Middle graders who love adventure, science fiction and whose fantasies know no limits are sure to enjoy this series.

And here she is. . .

Nancy Kunhardt Lodge has a Ph.D. in Renaissance art history. She taught at Tufts, Boston, and American Universities. She has written scholarly articles and delivered papers at Renaissance conferences in Italy and the U.S., among them the Frick Collection of Art, the Corcoran Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Resident Associates Program. She is a member of SCBWI and the College Art Association.  She has written two novels in the Lucy Nightingale Adventure Series. Dr. Lodge is the granddaughter of Dorothy Kunhardt, author of the children’s classic, Pat the Bunny. She lives in West Newbury, MA. with her husband and two Corgis, Wilbur and Charlotte.
You can find more about her at www.nancylodge.com


cleemckenzie said...

This sounds like so much fun. I'd love to find out how the ghost of Mona Lisa pulls off that heist.

Unknown said...

It combines art history and physics with humor and fantasy. I hope you read it.

Unknown said...

I should also add that it’s a brilliant book; it’s exceedingly imaginative and witty, the reader comes away with an understanding of at history, Leonardo da Vinci, and the nature of reality.

Anonymous said...

I recommend Mona Lisa’s Ghost most highly for children and adults who love imaginative, mysteries. This is in places hilarious, scary, mind boggling, and has one of the best bombshell endings I’ve ever known. Read editorial reviews. The author’s first book, The Crystal Navigator, is also a must!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

What a terrific idea for a story. It's brilliant. And so original.

Tonja Drecker said...

The solution is interesting wrapped around so much more...as said it's a fun, packed read with tons of surprises.