Today (August 4), Pope Francis will visit Umbria, with the particular destination of the Porziuncola (or Portiuncula), a small chapel standing within a huge church, Santa Maria degli Angeli, which in turns stands at the base of the hill on which Assisi is built.
The Porziuncola plays a part, naturally, in Adventures in Assisi. It provides a climax of sorts, in the story in which the two children have walked in the footsteps of St. Francis, both literally and spiritually, having learned some lessons about humility and poverty of spirit.
Ann found it a challenge to do a painting in which the scale of the small chapel in the huge basilica was evident, but still include the children. But I think she did a great job!
Remember, if you would like to order this book from me - you can go here. Perhaps it would be a good gift for you local Catholic classroom??
Adventures in Assisi is the fruit of my interest in St. Francis as well as trips both Ann and I have taken to the town. Ann has been twice, and I traveled there two years ago with my two youngest, on our epic 3-month stay in Europe.
There are, of course, many books on St. Francis for children, but ours is different in several ways:
1) It's set in the present. There are regular allusions to and illustrations from St. Francis' life, but the children at the center of the story are contemporary children, interacting with St. Francis, his life and his message, in the context of their own lives.
2) It's not about the wolf of Gubbio or the creche or St. Francis and creation - as great as those are, those stories are the subjects of most of the books about Francis out there, and really, do we need one more?
3) The children, we hope, are physically more representative of most children you see in picture books in general, and in picture books for Catholic in general, who tend to be pretty much all Caucasian. This was quite important to me. Given the makeup of the Catholic Church, even just in the US, it's ridiculous that the demographics of children's book illustrations don't reflect that. The models for these children, incidentally, are Ann's family members.