cover image Brother Juniper

Brother Juniper

Diane Gibfried, , illus. by Meilo So. . Clarion, $16 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-618-54361-8

The oft-heard maxim "to give the shirt off one's back" comes vibrantly to life as a facet of Christian generosity in this fresh look at Francis of Assisi and his followers. In 13th-century Italy, Brother Juniper was a friar working with Francis. Kind, simple and the most generous of his colleagues, Brother Juniper often doffed his own robe if someone else needed it more than he did. When the brothers go out to preach and leave Juniper to watch over the chapel, Brother Juniper's giving nature soon kicks into high gear. As parishioners come to him in need, Juniper offers anything he can—until he's naked, standing on what's left of the chapel floor. The returning friars are shocked and upset at the turn of events—until they see the vast rewards that Juniper's actions have reaped. Debut author Gibfried explains in a note how she called upon themes in the stories from The Little Flowers of St. Francis for her upbeat and gently humorous adaptation. So's (The White Swan Express ) watercolors, depicting an appealing variety of perspectives, capture the feel of the Tuscan countryside and feature a mix of silly and heartwarming scenes. The resulting volume is a welcome twist on familiar legend. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)