Myrna Strasser lived in East Moline, Illinois, and memories of times spent with her family inspired many of her writings. She was a full-time announcer at WDLM, a broadcast ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Before moving into radio, Myrna was a high school history and speech teacher for twenty years. 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.
Vibrant illustrations in luminous, jewel-bright hues are the
captivating attraction of this Christmas story about St. Francis of
Assisi. Bianchi's striking illustrations are computer generated,
with watercolor effects that create shimmering colors. The darker
illustrations of the Nativity scene in the cave have the look of
stained-glass windows, with deeper hues and a sense of mystery.
Moreover, he creates an interesting tension between traditionally
depicted characters of the period and stylized shapes in the trees
and leaves. -Kirkus Reviews * Kirkus Reviews *
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, Strasser's 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 child's 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. * Booklist - Ilene Cooper *
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