cover image A Gift from Saint Francis: The First Creche

A Gift from Saint Francis: The First Creche

Joanna Cole. Morrow Junior Books, $14 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-06502-7

Cole lovingly re-creates the story of the young man from Assisi who turned his back on his parents' wealth in order to be closer to God. This moving portrait of Brother Francis's selfless way of life, his concerns for those less fortunate than himself, the love he lavished on birds and animals--all of these elements are effectively presented in a straightforward, inspirational style. Cole does not preach, but lets the real humanity of this man emerge clearly. Lemieux's glowing, medieval-style paintings are a perfect complement, and her flattened perspective and burnished palette are appropriate to the period. Brother Francis finds a special way to bring the Christmas story to life when, with the aid of a few villagers, he restages the Nativity on a hillside near the Italian village of Greccio. Highly recommended as a Christmas gift, this work will encourage readers to reflect on the beauty and true meaning of the holiday season. All ages. ( Aug.)