Saint Francis and the Wolf

Jane Langton, Author, Ilse Plume, Illustrator , illus. by Ilse Plume. Godine $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56792-320-9

With a smooth storyteller's pacing and an eye for kid-friendly detail, Langton (The Fledgling ) retells the legend of how Saint Francis of Assisi used kindness to negotiate peace between the people of Gubbio and the wolf that was terrorizing their village. Though many tales of Francis's good deeds and selfless service are well known, children especially will gravitate to this story and its elements of suspense. Children stay indoors, warned that “The wolf will gobble you up”: the farmer, the miller and the baker, suffering their own hardships from the menacing beast, frantically express their concern for Francis. And the hungry wolf “licked its chops, dreaming of fat sheep,” while the villagers cower. As a complement to the dramatic tension, the young friar's Dr. Dolittle–like communication with animals also holds much appeal. The book's design goes far in capturing the flavor of Saint Francis's Italy. The font suggests, in a more humble style, the sturdy forms of calligraphy and illuminated letters of the day. On each spread, Plume (The Bremen-Town Musicians ) alternates spot illustrations of flowers and plants with slightly larger scenes of Gubbio framed in Renaissance-inspired shapes. Her delicate lines and sunny watercolor palette depict the flourishing flora, fauna and stone dwellings of the Italian countryside. A brief biography of Francis is included, and his “Canticle of the Sun” appears on the end papers. All ages. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/27/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
Genre: Children's
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