cover image The Song of Francis

The Song of Francis

Tomie dePaola, . . Putnam, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-25210-5

Introducing Francis of Assisi to the very young, dePaola retells the story of the saint's sermon to the birds, omitting any references to preaching and without identifying it as an episode from the saint's life. Instead, he depicts Francis as a solitary man “so filled with the love of God that he wanted to sing, to tell everyone how much God loved them.” The small blond angel who accompanies him everywhere tells him to sing even though he is alone, as God will hear him, and Francis begins, first inviting Brother Sun and Sister Moon, and then singing to the birds: “Come and bless the Lord, because the Lord loves you.” One by one, the birds come (dePaola names them by their colors), and then angels follow. Despite the small color lesson, there's not much of a story line; adults will have to rely on their ability to read aloud with genuine warmth in order to make a success of this text. The novel choice of media—collage using cut-up Avery labels colored with paintmarkers—yields a flower-power aesthetic, with Matisse-like stars and foliage thrown in, too. Ages 3–5. (Feb.)