Jan Cheripko, Author , illus. by Kestutis Kasparavicius. Boyds Mills $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-59078-096-1

Lithuanian illustrator Kasparavicius's (The Pied Piper of Peru ) detailed and quietly radiant watercolors capture the emotional undercurrents in this story with a moral. Eight monks at a "saintly" monastery earn their living by hard, rustic labor. Aging Brother Bartholomew tends the apple trees, important for the apple sauce the monks make from the harvest, but when the others ask why he doesn't always close the gate or repair the fence against the deer, he simply smiles and says, "God will provide." Then young, strong Brother Stephen joins the monastery, certain that he could do a better job in the orchard. When Brother Bartholomew dies, he gets his chance. In his lengthy text, Cheripko (Imitate the Tiger ) spells out his message in no uncertain terms: Brother Stephen learns that pride comes before a fall, a lesson reinforced by a disembodied voice that cites the Sermon on the Mount, and Brother Stephen finally appreciates Brother Bartholomew's wisdom. The pictures, which thoughtfully trace the seasons at the monastery, show more imagination. Alone in his confusion and resentment, the newly arrived young monk walks beneath barren trees in winter, unaware of the birds around him. Later, as Brother Stephen comes closer to spiritual growth, the scenes move from nocturnal or predawn shadow toward rosy daylight and bounty. In the end, while the story is didactic, it's also forgiving; readers can move on with Brother Stephen and grow along with him. Ages 6-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
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