Saint Francis of Assisi’s life and legends are recounted in too many words and gorgeously illustrated in Demi’s signature lapidary style.
Demi includes every single story and legend about Francis: his misspent youth, his conversion to poverty, his preaching to the birds, his receiving of the stigmata (the wounds of Christ on the Cross). The narrative opens with his Canticle of the Sun and closes with St Francis’ Blessing and his Praises to God Most High. The text in between is too wordy for young readers, though, and moves abruptly from vignette to vignette. The illustrations, however, are astounding. Medieval manuscripts, marbled papers, ancient cityscapes and Persian miniatures are all sources of inspiration for image after image of surpassing beauty. Here’s Francis divesting himself of his garments in order to return to his father his sumptuous silk brocades. Father, bystanders and bishop are all arrayed in magnificent robes—and Demi adroitly indicates nakedness without revealing much. Here’s Francis preaching to the sultan in his brilliantly hued tent. And here’s Francis creating the first Christmas crèche, as fox and goose, wolf and lamb (and a stained-glass gathering of townspeople) come to worship.
Beautiful, though not very accessible. (Picture book/biography. 8-14)