Mario's Angels: A Story About the Artist Giotto

Mary Arrigan, Author, Gillian McClure, Illustrator , illus. by Gillian McClure. Frances Lincoln $15.95 (26p) ISBN 978-1-84507-404-3

This winsome story playfully posits why the 14th-century Italian painter Giotto includes angels in his famous Nativity fresco in Padua. Arrigan (Chocolate Moon ) presents the winged additions as afterthoughts inspired by the artist's young "assistant," Mario. When Mister Giotto (credited as "the father of European painting," according to an endnote) explains, "I like my people to look real and move about," the ever-present and energetic Mario replies, "I'm real,... and I move about a lot. Can I be in your fresco?" The master gently rebuffs the youngster's offers until Giotto's patron comments that "something in the sky" is missing from the fresco, and the boy offers a solution. Lively watercolors in subdued hues sweetly convey the boy's exuberance as well as the painter's patience, and nicely echo the text's earnest, childlike tone. For example, three panels filling the top half of a spread depict Mario (and his puppy) scaling and swinging from the scaffolding while Giotto—with only boots and paint-splattered smock visible—works above. The artist's solemn, loving expressions toward his companion's steady inquiries and Mario's constant bustle deliver a delightful subtext. McClure's (Tog the Ribbler ) softly edged, yet dynamic illustrations seemingly pay homage to Giotto's use of movement and emotion. In an uplifting scene, rough sketches of angels float above a dancing Mario, who happily serves as Giotto's model. Ages 5-8. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
Genre: Children's
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