BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON

THE LIFE AND STORIES OF ST. FRANCIS

Mingling finely detailed wildlife portraits with scenes resembling the paintings of Fra Angelico and his predecessors, Malone (World of Words, 1998) creates jewel-like illustrations, some literal, others visionary, for this lapidary account of St. Francis’ life and legends. The author humanizes the saint in the opening biographical sketch by describing his profligate youth, slowly dawning vocation and bitter parting with his father. She follows with eight stories, including the “bargain” with the ferocious Wolf of Gubbio; Francis' invention of the Christmas crèche scene; his sermon to the birds and other encounters with animals. Then she closes with an extract from his “Canticle of Brother Sun,” plus a glance at the Franciscan Order he founded. Though less detailed than Tomie DePaola's Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi (1982), this makes a lovely alternative for younger readers. (Biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-316-56466-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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BE BLEST

A CELEBRATION OF SEASONS

This book of seasonal prayers, inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of Brother Sun,” and also indebted to Gaelic scholar Alexander Carmichel’s work, can be summed up by a portion of the prayer for November: “Contained in every/season’s end:/the blessing to begin again.” Springtime’s “Sing praise” gives way to summer’s “Rejoice!” and then to harvest time’s “Give Thanks” before winter’s “Be Blest” appears in the encircled prayer that faces each month’s watercolor illustration. The realistic paintings reflect the annual cycle, becoming almost iconographic in the evidence in each of the gifts of the season. These are “God’s good gifts” that in January, for example, are the seeds shaken from dead plants and weeds and the leaf buds on barren branches. The puzzle of the cycle of life springing from death moves on many levels; also appearing in January are predator (fox) and prey (deer). The simple yet sturdy spirituality informing this book will assure its place in both individual and institutional collections that have room for religious titles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-80546-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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THE ACROBAT AND THE ANGEL

In this retelling of a medieval French tale, a starving young acrobat, PÇquelÇ, is allowed to join a Franciscan community only if he promises to give up performing. When he breaks his promise, in order to comfort a plague-stricken infant, a sculpted angel comes to life and bears him away. Although the illustrator frames most of his darkly elaborate illustrations within stone archways decorated with floral designs or grotesques, PÇquelÇ often flies beyond the visual borders, flinging out arms and legs in abandon. His joy is contagious; readers moved by the story’s Italian cousin, retold in Tomie dePaola’s Clown of God (1978), will also respond to this more formal, polished rendition. (Picture book/folklore. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-22918-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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