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The Little Jester Hardcover – April 1, 2002
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When a little jester appears, cold and hungry, at the doors of a French monastery a thousand years ago, he is almost turned away by the abbot. But another monk implores him to let the boy in, and soon the jester is sitting at the monks' dining table, eating to his heart's content. And what better way to thank his hosts than to give them a little show? Soon, the jester is making music and dancing and juggling on the high altar of the church, right below the beautiful painting of the weeping Madonna. When the abbot discovers this sacrilege, he is outraged. But he and all the monks are about to discover the kind of miracle a little laughter and generosity of spirit can create. In this unusual and satisfying story, Swedish author and illustrator Helena Olofsson captures the medieval flavor of the time with a timeless message. Readers will be fascinated by the setting and charmed by the antics of the little jester. (Ages 5 to 7) --Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-The doors of a French monastery are opened to a cold, hungry little jester, with the stipulation from the Abbot that he leave as soon as he has eaten. After providing him with a hearty meal, the monks request some entertainment. The boy does some magic tricks and then goes into the church where he plays his flute in front of the altar with its famous painting of the Weeping Madonna. The Abbot, hearing the laughter and applause, angrily hurries to stop the merriment. Miraculously, the Madonna is no longer crying. The Abbot begs the boy's forgiveness and asks him what he could do in return. The boy requests that the monks welcome everyone who knocks at their door, and from that day on, the monastery has always been open to those who travel the road. The story is illustrated with simple, childlike drawings, some filled in with the color of obvious stroke marks. Others are framed with borders reminiscent of the illuminated books done in the monasteries 1000 years ago, the time period of the book. The story uses elements of the legend that was the basis for Tomie dePaola's Clown of God (Harcourt, 1986). Although dePaola's is a stronger book, this shorter story with its young jester has its own appeal. It validates the importance of laughter in life and faith, and honors the ability to bring happiness to others with varied human gifts.
Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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If you enjoy interpreting and comparing books, you could read this one alongside R.O. Blechman's The Juggler of Our Lady, Barbara Cooney's The Little Juggler, Tomie dePaola's The Clown of God, and Mark and David Shannons' The Acrobat & the Angel. An exhibition "Juggling the Middle Ages" on all these publications and more will be held in Washington, DC in 2018-2019.
This is more of a "be nice to people and the Virgin Mary will clap for you" book.
Great illustrations -- really neat use of shadows and illumination-style pages.