"In the pasture, instead of keeping watch over the flock, Giotto spends his time sketching." He may not be much of a shepherd, but this talented 8-year-old boy doesn't have to remain one for long; after timidly introducing himself to the painter Cimabue, he becomes the Florentine painter's protégé--and before long Cimabue looks at Giotto's work and thinks, "the pupil has outdone the master." The present tense lends immense vitality to this simple exercise in biography, written by Italian art critic Paolo Guarnieri and translated by Jonathan Galassi. The lively, immediate story is perfectly matched by the stunning paintings
of Guarnieri's wife, Bimba Landmann, which imitate the style of the great pre-Renaissance master while maintaining their own absolutely modern flavor. Children who find themselves absorbed in drawing, music, or any project other than the one at hand will find young Giotto's story inspirational. (Click to see a sample spread
. Copyright 1998 by Edizioni Arka, Milano. With permission of the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.) (Ages 7 and older) --Richard Farr
From Publishers Weekly
The spare, mellifluous quality of first-time children's book author Guarnieri's prose is matched only by the fluidity of line and stark perspectives in Landmann's paintings, which emulate the work of their subject. The author focuses on the makings of the artist from boyhood and concludes with Giotto's pivotal pilgrimage to Assisi, where his frescoes are still revered today. He characterizes the shepherd boy cum master painter as both gifted and driven from the first. Growing up in pre-Renaissance Italy, young Giotto takes the family's sheep to pasture each morning and spends the day sketching pictures of everything he sees on stones and in the sand. After viewing Cimabue's Madonna with Child being carried in a procession, Giotto becomes determined to confide his burning desire to the painter. Cimabue warmly receives Giotto and teaches him to mix pigments from minerals and plants. When the painter later sees the boy's rendering of a sheep he exclaims, "No painter I know has ever succeeded in making a creature look so alive." Giotto's parents then agree to allow the boy to study with Cimabue in Florence when he is old enough. Landmann's (Journey into the Blue Night) gilded, fresco-like paintings shimmer in earth tones. He authentically depicts the stylized landscapes and the flat perspectives of Giotto's time. For aspiring artists and art buffs alike. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)
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