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A Boy Named Giotto Hardcover – October 21, 1999

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (October 21, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374309310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374309312
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"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.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By christinemm from The Thinking Mother blog TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Beautiful illustrations accompany the story of Giotto, an eight-year-old shepherd-boy who had a natural talent for drawing. The story begins with a daydreaming Giotto, a sheep-shepherd boy, who draws on anything he can find such as rocks and in dirt, and with anything he can find, such as chalk or charcoal. His talents go unnoticed by his family and he is scolded for neglecting his shepherding duties, which at one point in the story, resulted in losing a lost sheep. He meets the painter, Cimabue, and learns that there is such a thing as paint and the people paint on wood panels just for the sake of making art. Cimabue asks Giotto's parents to let him become his apprentice and they refuse. Giotto is kept shepherding sheep at home for seven more years, and then his parents let him receive art instruction from Cimabue. Cimabue teaches Giotto how to paint a fresco (not an easy task) and as the book closes, we see Giotto going on to start a new assignment: painting the fresco at a church dedicated to Saint Francis. The story ends there, nothing more is said of how his life turned out and of the many wonderful works of art he produced, or that this sheep shepherd born in poverty ended up a wealthy man.

Some parents may not like that the parents come across in a negative way when they refuse to let their eight year old boy leave them to go into apprenticeship with Cimabue. The father states he wants him to stay home to work as a shepherd (with no positive messages about the value of a child helping their family make a living). The mother says she feels he is too young, and for some reason, it comes across in an overly protective way. I got the impression that the parents were being stupid not to let their very talented son leave for an apprenticeship at age eight.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Craig B. Williamson on December 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Our 5-year-old twins received this book from their grandmother ("Nonna"), and absolutely loved it. The most amazing thing was that about a week later, they were in the grocery store with their mother, and they saw the cover of LIFE magazine. They immediately recognized it as a Giotto fresco, and informed their mother, who had not noticed it. We bought a copy (of course) and had to call Nonna and tell her all about it. I can think of no better way that we could be instilling an appreciation and knowledge of art in our children.
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By Bri on February 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Based on a historical event and given a lot of creative license this story is about having a dream and following it.

Eight year old Giotto is always being told he doodles too much. He lives in ancient Italy and likes to draw on the ground or the walls. When his drawing leads to a sheep going missing his father gets very upset.

Of course Giotto finds a way to follow his dreams.

I didn't really like the artwork; it was too dark and too complex. The story felt long and was a bit dull although it had a happy ending and an okay storyline.
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