It is a pleasure to see an historical novel for young people, not only authentic in background but fresh in story and character -- there have been so many thread-bare plots with cartoon pirates and patriots this spring. This novel, set about 1300, explores a new area -- Florence, Italy -- and the practically untouched field of painting. The period itself offers enough romantic adventure and colorful props for any historical, and the author exploits these elements to the fullest. Against the rich, bustling and sword-clashing society of Florence of the early Renaissance the story of Piero, son of the proud Corso Feruzzi, knight and prior of Florence, is presented. Although trained for the fierce career of a knight, Piero longs for the life of an artist, and his highest dream, to be apprenticed to the great master, Giotto, then decorating the walls of Santa Croos. Leaving the house of his disapproving father, Piero becomes apprenticed to the loveable but poor old master, To, who has barely enough money for his materials. However, a series of events involving the discovery of a thief in the shop, a street war in Florence, and Piero's rescue of his father brings to Piero the realization of his hopes. Natural, atmospheric dialogue, absorbing information about fourteenth century painting media, breathtaking views of the fairy tale city of Florence, glimpses of the bottegas of Giotto's day, and a fast moving plot make this one of the better historicals.