From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4-In a quiet hilltop monastery, eight monks tend a small farm, eking out just enough to survive. Old Brother Bartholomew, who looks after the apple grove, allows the deer to come in and eat the fruit, saying, "God will provide." When young and ambitious Brother Stephen arrives, he is appalled at the state of the orchard and secretly hopes that the elderly monk will die so that he can take it over and improve it. After his death, the younger man puts barbed wire on the fence and a large, beautiful buck is injured while trying to jump over it. The animal looks at Brother Stephen with familiar eyes and speaks to him, saying: "Your pride has caused this harm, my brother." From then on, "a great rush of light filled his heart and flooded his soul," and Brother Stephen shares the apples with the deer. When he grows old and a new young monk asks him why, Brother Stephen replies, "God will provide.… He always does." This simple parable is beautifully illustrated in muted colors and detailed landscapes that show the passing of the seasons and evoke a rural, old-world simplicity. Perhaps a bit sophisticated in theme, this offering will work best when shared with an adult.-Shelley B. Sutherland, Niles Public Library District, IL
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Gr. 1-3. Youthful, energetic Brother Stephen knows he can tend his monastery's apples better than old Brother Bartholomew, who sits idly by as deer chomp the valuable fruit. When confronted, Brother Bartholomew merely comments, "God will provide." The care of the orchards eventually passes to Brother Stephen, who sets feverishly to work, repairing the gate and strengthening the fence, topping it with barbed wire. When a noble stag injures itself on the wire, Brother Stephen understands that pride has distracted him from the true path of God. Lithuanian artist Kasparavicius extends the theme of humility with quiet, earth-toned scenes of life in a rustic monastery. Although this Christian fable becomes forthrightly religious when a voice from on high delivers a Bible verse and short sermon to the penitent Brother Stephen, the simple messages of generosity, compassion, and respect for the wisdom of the elderly reach out to an ecumenical audience. Jennifer Mattson
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