SAINT FRANCIS AND THE CHRISTMAS DONKEY by Robert Byrd

SAINT FRANCIS AND THE CHRISTMAS DONKEY

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 9

KIRKUS REVIEW

Inspired by the story of St. Francis of Assisi as well as a visit to the frescoes of Giotto, the author combines an original creation tale on the naming of the animals with a retelling of the Christmas story. He begins with a description of the humble patron saint of animals, who called them his brothers, and the birds his sisters, spoke to, understood, and always cared for God’s creatures. Continuing his story, he tells about the day when St. Francis met the donkey who was complaining about his ugly voice. St. Francis tells the donkey a creation story in which the donkey gets long ears, a stubby tail, and an ugly voice for ridiculing other animals as God created them. St. Francis then comforts him, reminding the donkey of the important part he played in carrying Mary and Jesus to Bethlehem. The elegant, flat paintings of St. Francis and the animals convey a sense of 13th-century Italian art. The title page shows a gold triptych with St. Francis, the Nativity, and the donkey. Often the text or illustrations appear with elaborate, decorative borders that call to mind illuminated manuscripts. In keeping with the simple life of the saint, his own pages are filled with natural elements and those borders are simple, growing things. While the illustrations influenced by the past are handsome, the most compelling image is the last blue-and-white double-page spread, which shows St. Francis and the donkey, snow, sky, shadows, stillness, and star. The author provides a detailed afterword about his sources and his subject, and includes an annotated bibliography. Lovely. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-525-46480-8
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2000




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