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Number of Pages: 40
Publication Date: 2010
|Dimensions: 11.00 X 8.50 (inches)|
Fausto Bianchi was born on Lake Como and now lives and works in Varese, Italy. He lives with his wife, child, and a dog and cat. Fausto has done illustrations for several Italian publishing houses and advertising agencies. He especially enjoys working with watercolors and has begun to use digital formats to create the same watercolor effects. He uses this technique for the illustrations in St. Francis and the Nativity.
The book is illustrated by Fausto Bianchi, who used computer generated digital graphics to replicate the style of watercolor paintings. The story features a young boy named Mario, who helps St. Francis by watching his animals when the priest has to go out of town and by locating the cave for the live nativity scene. Mario is shown tending to sheep in wide pastures or visiting busy Italian cities, and each scene is bright with vivid colors and busy with moving animals and people. Although the text refers to St. Francis needing to visit the Pope in Rome for permission to put on the play, the book itself does not present any specific leaning toward Catholic practices and teachings, but, rather, stays close to the biblical story of the manger scene and birth of Jesus. It's an interesting bit of history told in a way that will hold the interest of 3- to 8-year-old children. Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Books about Saint Francis for kids usually center on his mystical relationship with animals and nature. This one, however, is about an event in his life that should have equal interest: his creation of the first Nativity scene. Framed in the fictional tale of a young shepherd named Mario, Strassers story begins when the boy helps Francis load his cart of supplies. A friendship forms, and it is a remark by Mario, who wishes he could have seen the night of Jesus birth, that gives Francis an idea. While Francis is getting permission from the church, Mario finds the perfect cave in which to enact the holy night. The fictional framework for the story does not mesh as seamlessly as it might with the facts, but the addition of Mario does bring a childs perspective to the tale. The full-bleed illustrations, whose glow is reminiscent of stained glass, offer a delicate young shepherd and saint, and they capture the wonderment of both a special night and its first recreation. A good choice for Christmas shelves.