Steal Back the Mona Lisa!
Harcourt, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch
n this unusual picture book, the protagonist, Secret Agent Jack, is summoned from his bed for a very important mission: to steal back the Mona Lisa!
hile Jack is safely asleep in New York, the world's most famous painting is being carted away. Plus, the thieves plan to deface the Mona Lisa by painting a mustache on her! Using his special agent powers, Jack transports himself across the Atlantic to have a showdown with the criminals.
ack uses all tools of the espionage trade, including a laser light, slippery oil, and his special-agent watch, but he is still captured and tortured (by being forced to watch videos of chickens dancing). Jack emerges the hero, of course, and saves the day, as well as the Mona Lisa.
he illustrations are amusing, especially the final scene where the Mona Lisa, safely back on the wall, gives a little wave of thanks to Jack. This is a cute fantasy where the good guys win and where children can begin to appreciate the value of art.
he book is based, in part, on historical fact: the author, at the end, gives a background about the actual theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 and tells how it was eventually recovered two years later.
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