Monday, August 07, 2006

Picture Books – Brother Juniper

Brother Juniper by Diane Gibfried and Illustrated by Meilo So 2006

Apparently, there are a number of stories that are based on Brother Juniper. This is the first one I have read and found it delightful and inspirational. Gibfried takes us back in time to find Brother Juniper living with St. Francis of Assisi. We find that many look upon Brother Juniper as generous to a fault and at times worry that he lacks common sense when giving to others. After setting a backdrop with Brother Juniper’s previous antics in giving, Gibfried builds the story around the time St. Francis leaves Brother Juniper to watch over the church while he and the others are away. When people in need begin to stop by and ask for assistance Brother Juniper gives everything and anything away that will help those in need help themselves. By the time St. Francis and the others return, Brother Juniper has given everything away and nothing is left, not even the building. Now, the other brothers are just dismayed and think Brother Juniper has ruined everything. Although this makes him said, Brother Juniper doesn’t give up and begins the Sunday morning off with shouting like the bells to call all to services. To the amazement of the brothers, everyone and then some come to worship and thank Brother Juniper, as they are now able to help themselves.

The story is poignant and provides a great message in helping others. It would make for a great Sunday school read aloud or perhaps a family evening reading time book. Plus, the story would provide an avenue in which to open up a dialogue about sharing with those who are less fortunate. However, I am not sure it would be a top pick among the age group it is intended. At my library it is catalogued as a picture book, but it almost would fit better into the folktales section, just my opinion though. Try this with those ages 5 and up.

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