Leonard Smith, called “Nard,” turns out to be the kind of boy who surprises everyone, including himself. An orphan with only one hand, Nard is used to bouncing from one foster home to the next. Then he moves out to the Swedenborge farm. A relic from the past, the old homestead is stuck in the center of a wealthy suburb. Life there is hard, with crazy Farley concocting wild, drunken schemes and neighborhood rich kids terrorizing the place, hoping to drive them out. But Anna is the mother Nard never had, and it’s there that he meets Anna’s granddaughter, Julie, as well as an unusual and mysterious kindred spirit who happens to be more than five hundred years old.
This unlikely trio enter an inventors’ contest, hoping to solve their own problems: paying Julie’s huge medical bills and saving the farm from land developers. Then Nard gets greedy and wants everything for himself. His is the largest problem of all. Leonardo’s Hand is a magical and unforgettable novel about a boy’s search for a place to call home.
A Teacher’s Guide
This 34-page handbook, based on the novel Leonardo’s Hand, contains lesson plans for middle-school students to improve their writing skills. It can also be used as a curriculum course in creative writing for high-school students.