Saint Francis & the Wolf

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.
Publishers Weekly

Jane Gillson Langton (born December 30, 1922) is an American writer and author of children’s literature and mystery novels. She both writes and illustrates her novels. Langton was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She studied astronomy at Wellesley College and the University of Michigan, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1944. She received an M.A. in art history from the University of Michigan in 1945, and another M.A. from Radcliffe College in 1948. She studied at the Boston Museum School from 1958 to 1959.

In 1961 Langton wrote and illustrated her first book for children, The Majesty of Grace, a story about a young girl during the Depression who is certain she will some day be Queen of England. Langton has since written a children’s series, The Hall Family Chronicles, and the Homer Kelly murder mystery novels. She has also written several stand-alone novels and picture books.

Langton’s novel The Fledgling is a Newbery Honor book. Her novel Emily Dickinson is Dead was nominated for an Edgar Award and received a Nero Award. The Face on the Wall was an editors’ choice selection by The Drood Review of Mystery for 1998.

Langton lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts, near the town of Concord, the setting of many of her novels.

Ilse Plume is a collector and illustrator of children’s songs and folktales from around the world. Her first book, The Bremen-Town Musicians, was a Caldecott Honor book for 1981. She has since created many other beautiful works including The Farmer in the Dell and The Twelve Days of Christmas (both published by Godine), and has illustrated books by Nancy Willard and Charlotte Zolotow.