Neo Leo

The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci

Gene Barretta; illustrations by Gene Barretta

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

In 1781, Thomas Paine came up with a model for a single-span bridge; in 1887, Adolf Eugen Fick made the first pair of contact lenses; and in 1907, Paul Cornu built the first helicopter. But Leonardo da Vinci thought of all these ideas more than five hundred years ago!

At once an artist, inventor, engineer, and scientist, da Vinci wrote and drew detailed descriptions of what would later become hang gliders, automobiles, robots, and much more. Gene Barretta cleverly shows how Leonardo’s ideas—many inspired by his love of nature—foreshadowed modern inventions, offering a window into the future.



  • Neo Leo

    A video trailer for the book, "Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo Da Vinci" by Gene Barretta.

  • Gene Barretta's interview on Connecticut Style

    An illustration demonstration and interview with Gene Barretta, author of Neo Leo.



Praise for Neo Leo

“Barretta provides clear information without veering into scientific explanations. Readers who most closely associate Leonardo with the Mona Lisa will be inspired by the breadth of his interests and the genius of his observations. This accessible introduction will inspire children to look closely at the world around them and come up with some creations of their own.”School Library Journal

“Barreta’s colorful and comical artwork keeps the scientific subject matter fun, with smiling, apple-cheeked characters populating the pages and a grey-bearded da Vinci scribbling notes while studying the world around him. A fine choice to introduce the famous man, his peerless ideas, and the forward-thinking role of inventors in general.”—Booklist

“Energetic, engaging and eclectic—just like its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Gene Barretta; illustrations by Gene Barretta

  • Gene Barretta is the author and illustrator of Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin, and Dear Deer, which was a Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts and listed on the Parenting Magazine Mom-Tested Books of the Year List. He holds a B.F.A. in Film Studies from New York University, and has worked for many years in film and television production. He lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, with his wife and son.
  • Gene Barretta
    Gene Barretta


Available Formats and Book Details

Neo Leo

The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci

Gene Barretta; illustrations by Gene Barretta

IRA Teachers' Choices