Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey

Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey

by Robert Byrd
     
 

When Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals, encounters a donkey who is unhappy with his lot in life, Francis tells him a story that heals. True, long ago God punished the mischievous animal by giving him long ears, a loud bray, and heavy burdens to bear. Yet God gave the donkey something wonderful, too. For who was it that carried Mary to Bethlehem across rugged…  See more details below

Overview

When Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals, encounters a donkey who is unhappy with his lot in life, Francis tells him a story that heals. True, long ago God punished the mischievous animal by giving him long ears, a loud bray, and heavy burdens to bear. Yet God gave the donkey something wonderful, too. For who was it that carried Mary to Bethlehem across rugged mountains and burning desert sand? And in the stable, who warmed the Baby Jesus with his breath? Whose love and devotion on the trip from Nazareth outshone even the gifts of the wise men? A story that addresses the inherent good in all of us, each spread of this tour de force is a feast for the eye and for the soul.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
One day, Saint Francis encounters a donkey crying in the woods, bemoaning his lot in life. Saint Francis tells him the story about how donkeys came to be the way they are and what an important role a donkey played in the nativity. It seems an arrogant donkey made fun of the other animals until finally some monkeys pulled its ears and tail until they lengthened, and God took away his melodious voice and left him to bray. It is a bit of a stretch to imagine this man of God telling such a tall tale. Of course, donkeys came to be used to carry heavy loads, including the job of carrying a certain pregnant virgin to Bethlehem. Colorful illustrations are full of the flora and fauna St. Francis loved so well. There is an informative note to the reader at the end reviewing the life of St. Francis. 2000, Dutton Children's Books, $15.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Dr. Judy Rowen
Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by the story of St. Francis of Assisi as well as a visit to the frescoes of Giotto, the author combines an original creation tale on the naming of the animals with a retelling of the Christmas story. He begins with a description of the humble patron saint of animals, who called them his brothers, and the birds his sisters, spoke to, understood, and always cared for God's creatures. Continuing his story, he tells about the day when St. Francis met the donkey who was complaining about his ugly voice. St. Francis tells the donkey a creation story in which the donkey gets long ears, a stubby tail, and an ugly voice for ridiculing other animals as God created them. St. Francis then comforts him, reminding the donkey of the important part he played in carrying Mary and Jesus to Bethlehem. The elegant, flat paintings of St. Francis and the animals convey a sense of 13th-century Italian art. The title page shows a gold triptych with St. Francis, the Nativity, and the donkey. Often the text or illustrations appear with elaborate, decorative borders that call to mind illuminated manuscripts. In keeping with the simple life of the saint, his own pages are filled with natural elements and those borders are simple, growing things. While the illustrations influenced by the past are handsome, the most compelling image is the last blue-and-white double-page spread, which shows St. Francis and the donkey, snow, sky, shadows, stillness, and star. The author provides a detailed afterword about his sources and his subject, and includes an annotated bibliography. Lovely. (Fiction. 7-9)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525464808
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
9.42(w) x 12.38(h) x 0.43(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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Meet the Author

Mr. Byrd is a successful commercial artist and children's book illustrator whose award-winning picture books include The Bear and the Bird King. Robert Byrd lives in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

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