Antonio's Apprenticeship: Painting a Fresco in Renaissance Italy

Taylor Morrison, Author
Taylor Morrison, Author Holiday House $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1213-6
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This picture book debut brings to life 15th-century Florence with a sympathetic tale of a painter's apprentice. In first-person narration, Antonio describes his exciting arrival in the great city and his dismay at his distinctly unglamorous duties-gathering quills and hog hair for brushes and scraping dirt off the musty walls of the fictional San Francesco chapel. The work of grinding pigments, selecting models (cousins do nicely), transferring cartoons and applying plaster seems real as Morrison shows Antonio struggling with perspective or nervously painting his first fresco. Large, post-impressionist-type illustrations spatially dominate the layout but are upstaged by a handful of red pencil sketches wrought in fine Renaissance style. Morrison's vibrantly reported details lend irresistible immediacy to a seminal period in art history, but there's a fundamental problem with the book-its combination of a text geared to middle graders and a format and layout typically used for younger children may leave it without much of an audience. Ages 8-12.(Mar.)
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