Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Saint Francis of Assisi: A Life of Joy

Saint Francis of Assisi: A Life of Joy

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Illustrator:  Dennis Nolan 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 9
Hyperion, 2005   ISBN: 978-0786818754

Francis Bernadone was a fun loving, cheerful, charming young man who was loved throughout the town of Assisi where he lived. He was also a generous, kind, and sympathetic man who did all he could to help the poor, the homeless and the sick in his town. More than anything Francis wanted to be a knight, to prove himself in battle, and to fight for God and for glory.

Though Francis gets the chance to be a knight in the traditional sense complete with shiny armour and a beautiful horse he soon comes to realize that this is not what God has in mind for him. God wants Francis to be a different kind of knight; he wants him to be a defender of the weak, the sick, the poor, and the helpless. He wants Francis to take care of those who have no voice and no power to protect and help themselves.

Thus it is that Francis takes on the job of taking care of the lepers who live outside the town of Assisi, and of the poor and destitute. Casting off his former life he dresses in a simple tunic with a rope belt and though his life is hard, Francis is happier than he ever was when he was the well clothed, well fed son of the richest merchant in Assisi.

Francis is soon joined by others who seek a simple life of service and prayer. The men called each other "friar" or brother and travel all over Europe living in poverty and helping others. In addition to helping people, Francis has a close rapport with animals, even the ones which are traditionally feared, like the wolf.

Illustrated in the style reminiscent of old medieval art and tapestries, this is a moving and unique picture book biography.