7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2006
This is a great story about a generous friar. I love especially how it doesn't try to be politically correct about the reality of the Franciscans; the book includes tasteful pictures of a naked Brother Juniper who gave the robe off his back. It's refreshing to read quality kids' books.
Further, I don't know why Amazon is describing this as a baby/preschool book. I'd say it's perfect for kids starting around age 4 but continuing on into older elementary ages as well.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Juniper is one of sever friars who lived with the renowned patron of animals, Father Francis (later, Saint Francis) of Assisi. ALl of them are pious and poor, but Brother Juniper seems different from the otehrs. While he's generous, good, and simple, some of his brothers:
"...thought he was silly." This was because Brother Juniper was often naked. IF somebody asked for his robe, Brother Juniper would gladly give it to him. Even if it was a cold day. Even if it was snowing."
Talented water colorist Meilo So, does her job and illustrates the naked Brother Juniper, exposing all of his backside with two curved lines. It's very vague, and from a distance, but there you have it. Grammar sticklers have undoubtedly already noticed that "If it was a cold day" should be "If it were a cold day." Don't say you weren't warned.
Generous to a Fault
ONe day Assisi and the friars leave Juniper alone, although they're worried about his extreme generosity. At first, Brother Juniper is quite occupied with a friar's many duties, including praying, polishing golden candlesticks, mending brocaded vestments, and scrubbing the stained glass windows. Soon, however, villagers arrive at the monastery, one after another, each with a tale of poverty, disease, or hunger. The ever-generous Brother finds a material solution for them, giving away valuable church artifacts to help them get by (and, he's naked again--the cleaning woman was cold...).
Many 'F's in a Row
When Francis and the friars return, the friars are furious. For example, Brother Bernard cries, "You have ruined our church." Brother Pietro, more thoughtfully, asks, "Where will we worship?" There's a hole where the church should be.
The Moral Lesson
Brother Juniper is so sad that he stays in hiding until Sunday, when he yells "DING, DING, DING" to call the villagers to church. (He had given away the bell.) When they come, the friars see that their Brother's generosity is more than repaid--in the size of the congregation, and the smiles on their faces. Father Francis is very pleased, observing that Brother Jumiper has actually built the church, not destroyed it.
Thoughts on the Book
Although the story has a religious base, it's interesting that the problems and solutions are so rooted in the material--in goods that can be exchanged for money. One may view this as refreshingly realistic. It also gets around any church-state separation issues that might bar this book from public schools. Other than Father Francis' implicit statement that one's service to others makes a church (not stones, stained glass, and gold), the focus is on money. "The Rainbow Fish" presents a similar possession-based stance, yet a surprising number of Amazon reviewers somehow view "Fish" as a Communist manifesto!
The book includes a brief afterwards about Saint Francis and the tales collected in "The Little Flowers of St. Francis." I enjoyed "Brother Juniper" for its originality, depiction of monastery life, and the expressive, open watercolors by Meilo So.
on December 25, 2009
I fell in love with this book only two weeks ago as my son and I browsed a local bookshop in search of Christmas gifts. I read it all, standing out of the way of foot traffic, and it took me only minutes to finish this delightful story -- but it has never left my mind or heart since I read it. I wasn't buying for myself that day, so I reluctantly put it back on its shelf before we left.
This is the story of a basic man with a basic heart, who does the right thing no matter the cost. In the end, the reward (which was never thought of by dear Brother Juniper) is greater than anything one could imagine.
My son saw me looking at the book, and got it for me for Christmas! I just unwrapped it a while ago.
on November 9, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A charming story about Brother Juniper a monk serving with Francis of Assisi. He takes to heart The message of sharing with the less fortunate, giving the clothes off his back and the entire monastery! What he receives in return is priceless. A great story to share with young children.
on June 6, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This saint gives away everything, down to his last shred of clothing. So, if you aren't one of those families like us who find behinds hilarious, you might be a lil' bit scandalized. Otherwise, this fictionalized story of Brother Juniper is a gem!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2007
This is a great book for any child, and best of all it is fun for adults to read out loud! Kids find Brother Juniper's endless generosity hilarious, yet still recognize how such giving is admirable from the story's ending.