Librarian’s Corner Favorite: Clown of God by Tomie dePaola

by Jeanette Larson on December 22, 2013

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A young Italian orphan learns to juggle to earn money. As his talent grows he is asked to join a traveling troupe and his performances attract great crowds. He even performs for royalty, juggling to spread happiness and joy. Growing older, and less skilled, the crowds thin and his performances are mocked as those of an “old clown.”  Giovanni puts away his colorful balls and costume and returns to being a beggar. Sneaking inside a monastery to sleep for a night, Giovanni is awakened by a procession of people bearing gifts to the Christ child. Giovanni wants to join the procession but thinks he has no gift to give. Or does he? His final performance before the statue of Our Lady and the Holy Child will touch even the hardest hearts. I’m not an especially religious person, but this retelling of a French legend is beautifully illustrated by Tomie dePaola and, although the holiday is never mentioned, perfectly embodies the spirit of Christmas.

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