An imagined tale of Francis of Assisi as a boy doing good foreshadows later saintly activities.
His Nonna, his Babbo, his Mamma and the maid are all still asleep, but Francis moves quietly in the dawn. Everyone is tired from staying up the night before, worrying about the she-wolf threatening the town and the livestock. When Francis goes out to tend the animals, he sees the shadow of the wolf. He brings the wolf an egg and some goat’s milk in a bowl, and she departs, leaving child and farm animals in peace, a presaging of the older Francis’ actions in the legend of the Wolf of Gubbio. Nobisso laces her telling with a surfeit of modifiers. The wolf has “intelligent eyes,” a “magnificent head” and “muscular ears nimbly twitching.” Hyde’s oil paintings are beautiful in a soft-focus kind of way, although they reflect a more High Renaissance style than Francis’ late-12th-century boyhood. Full-page images are bordered with leaves, flowers and geometric patterns, and the palette is ash rose, stone and gold. Nobisso’s dedication is in Italian, to her aunts and cousins, and while the few Italian words in the text are fairly clear, it is too bad she does not note that Nonna is Grandma and Babbo is Daddy.
Heartfelt, if florid. (creators’ note, author’s postscript) (Picture book/religion. 5-8)