Who Stole Mona Lisa?

Who Stole Mona Lisa?  by Ruthie Knapp, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Who Stole Mona LisaThe Mona Lisa, the famous painting by Leonardo daVinci, narrates this picture book (which is based on historical information).

The story begins with the Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre Museum in Paris, watching as a tour guide brings a group of people to look at the famous painting.  Readers learn that the painting was done by Leonardo daVinci, and that it took four years to paint.  The Mona Lisa tells a little about daVinci:  that he was a sculptor, architect, inventor, engineer, and painter – and that he loved animals.

The Mona Lisa was given to the French King Francois the First.  The painting stayed in France for a very long time, through many kings.  Eventually, Napoleon gave the painting to the Louvre Museum – where it became world famous, and attracted huge crowds of admirers, and a thief.

“One hot night in August, I heard footsteps.  The man with the mustache came…He measured me…Then he tiptoed away.  Early the next morning…The man with the mustache was back.  This time, he was wearing a white workman’s smock.  He looked behind him, then he raised both hands and ripped me off the wall.  Ouch!”

When the museum discovered that the Mona Lisa was missing, they looked everywhere.  Police detectives searched all over Paris.  The museum posted a reward for the painting’s safe return.

The man with the mustache loved looking at the Mona Lisa.  He kept the painting for two years.  He hid the Mona Lisa under his stove when he thought police were searching nearby.  When the man with the mustache took the painting to Italy and tried to sell it, he was captured – and the Mona Lisa was returned to Paris.

The Mona Lisa says she is glad to be back in the Louvre Museum, watching people and smiling her special smile.

“But mine is a knowing smile.  It has stored secrets for more than 500 years.  The secrets of artists and kings, a hot night in August, and a mustache.  It is a smile that knows many secrets, but now so do you.”

This is an interesting presentation of the Mona Lisa’s story.  Young listeners will enjoy the story and the colorful illustrations.  There is an author’s note at the end, with more information about daVinci, the Mona Lisa, and the 1911 theft of the painting.




  1. Christy on August 7, 2013 at 8:31 am

    It sounds like a neat book. I’m glad you shared it on the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    • bookwormbear on August 9, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks for stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  2. Alex Baugh on August 7, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I always like books that introduce kids to art in some way. This sounds like an interesting perspective for kids to become familiar with daVinci and the Mona Lisa. Thanks for sharing this on Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    • bookwormbear on August 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      I liked that, too. And, the information about daVinci and the Mona Lisa is interesting, and well presented. Have you read the Magic Treehouse book Monday with a Mad Genius and the nonfiction guide that goes with it titled Leonardo da Vinci? My daughter loved those – and read them over and over. Thanks for stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  3. Brittany on August 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Very cool – I love books that share parts of history and/or art, especially pieces like this. A great book to share! Visiting via Kid Lit Blog Hop!

    • bookwormbear on August 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      It’s fun to find a picture book that is engaging and shares art history! The Magic Treehouse nonfiction guide to daVinci is pretty good for young chapter book readers.

  4. Katie @ Youth Literature Reviews on August 8, 2013 at 12:37 am

    What a cool book! I love that the story is told from Mona Lisa’s point of view.
    Thanks for linking up to the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

    • bookwormbear on August 9, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      I liked that it was told from the painting’s point of view, too — that added a feeling of an old friend telling a very interesting story. Thanks for stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  5. Julie Grasso on August 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Wow, I never knew that it was stolen early century. I LOVE the Mona Lisa and I have seen her, hurrah. I have to have this book. Thanks for linking in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop

    • bookwormbear on August 9, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      I’d heard that it was stolen, and even something about it being hidden under a stove in Paris. But, it was fun to see more information on that theft in a picture book. I enjoyed learning how the Mona Lisa came to France, and eventually to the Louvre as well. I’d love to visit Paris and the Louvre! Thanks for stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  6. […] Bear shared the based-on-real-life picture book Who Stole Mona […]

  7. Barbara Mojica on August 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing a story that is well worth telling to both children and adults.

  8. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews on August 17, 2013 at 1:11 am

    What a fantastic idea for a book. I love how the perspective is that of Mona Lisa who tells her own history! Thanks so much for linking in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Great recommendation!

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