Saint Francis was born in 1182, the son of a wealthy merchant. After a swashbuckling youth in Assisi, he had a change of faith and decided to live the life that he ascribed to Jesus, one of poverty and abstinence. He gave away everything he owned. His father disowned him. But over the years he drew to himself a substantial following of men and women and died revered and beloved in 1225. Three years later he was canonized as Saint Francis of Assisi by Pope Gregory IX.
This lovely retelling of one of the less known of the Saint Francis lessons centers on the legend of the great wolf of Gubbio, a ferocious canine who terrorized the town and was slowly reducing it to penury and starvation. In nearby Assisi, Brother Francis heard of their plight and came to their rescue. Unbelievingly, the villagers watched from the ramparts as Brother Francis called to the wolf, tamed it with his tenderness, and made it pledge that if the people of Gubbio would care for it, he would do them no harm. He took the pledge and lived in harmony with the citizens of the city until his death.
Jane Langton has retold the legend with her usual lucidity and grace, and Ilse Plume, an Italophile and the illustrator of three previous Godine books, has supplied the rectos with illustrations that glow with the intensity of Renaissance jewelry. A perfect gift for Easter or anyone who embraces the relationship between man and the natural world.
With a smooth storyteller’s pacing and an eye for kid-friendly detail. . . children especially will gravitate to this story and its elements of suspense. . . the young friar’s Dr. Dolittle-like communication with animals also holds much appeal. . . Plumes delicate lines and sunny watercolor palette depict the flourishing flora, fauna and stone dwellings of the Italian countryside.