Cover image for A boy named Giotto
A boy named Giotto
Guarnieri, Paolo.
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Uniform Title:
Bambino di nome Giotto. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 31 cm
Eight-year-old Giotto the shepherd boy confesses his dream of becoming an artist to the painter Cimabue, who teaches him how to make marvelous pigments from minerals, flowers, and eggs and takes him on as his pupil.
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PIC. BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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A sparkling celebration of the pre-Renaissance master Centuries ago, a shepherd boy drew pictures of his sheep in the sand and on stones. Today, everyone knows him as Giotto, the pre-Renaissance master whose magnificent frescoes illuminate the Church of St. Francis in Assisi and the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.In A Boy Named Giotto, Paolo Guarnieri tells a story of how young Giotto might have been apprenticed to the great master Cimabue and taught how to paint frescoes. In legendary fashion, Cimabue, as any other artist of the times might have done, realizes that the student has outdone the master and will subsequently find a permanent place of honor in the history of art. Bimba Landmann's stunning paintings, with highlights of glittering gilt, call to mind the work of Giotto but exude a style that is distinctly Landmann's own.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. This beautiful picture book about the Italian painter Giotto begins and ends on the endpapers, which note that although little is known about the fourteenth-century artist's life, his paintings in Padua and Assisi are well known and beloved even today. In between, a legend is told about an eight-year-old shepherd so obsessed with drawing that he neglects his sheep. When the boy loses a lamb, his father keeps him home from a procession in honor of a painting by the master Cimabue. But the boy follows the procession to the painter's home, where Cimabue teaches him to make pigments. When Giotto's father sees his son's lifelike rendering of a ewe painted in Cimabue's pigments, he rethinks his son's "scribblings." Landmann's artwork is more reminiscent of Cimabue's, which used planes of flat color and linear shapes, than Giotto's, with its rounded figures. But her russet and bronze palette, lit by touches of gold, is attractive; and the pictures are fittingly arranged like altarpieces or frescoes and framed with small illustrations beneath the main image. A special book that will capture children patient enough to wait for the message. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

The spare, mellifluous quality of first-time children's book author Guarnieri's prose is matched only by the fluidity of line and stark perspectives in Landmann's paintings, which emulate the work of their subject. The author focuses on the makings of the artist from boyhood and concludes with Giotto's pivotal pilgrimage to Assisi, where his frescoes are still revered today. He characterizes the shepherd boy cum master painter as both gifted and driven from the first. Growing up in pre-Renaissance Italy, young Giotto takes the family's sheep to pasture each morning and spends the day sketching pictures of everything he sees on stones and in the sand. After viewing Cimabue's Madonna with Child being carried in a procession, Giotto becomes determined to confide his burning desire to the painter. Cimabue warmly receives Giotto and teaches him to mix pigments from minerals and plants. When the painter later sees the boy's rendering of a sheep he exclaims, "No painter I know has ever succeeded in making a creature look so alive." Giotto's parents then agree to allow the boy to study with Cimabue in Florence when he is old enough. Landmann's (Journey into the Blue Night) gilded, fresco-like paintings shimmer in earth tones. He authentically depicts the stylized landscapes and the flat perspectives of Giotto's time. For aspiring artists and art buffs alike. Ages 5-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-Giotto, a boy in long-ago Italy, neglects his sheep and sketches obsessively with charcoal and chalk on stones and rocks. When the famous painter Cimabue visits his town, Giotto sees a painted masterpiece for the first time and learns about pigments and the preparation of panels from the artist. The next day, the young shepherd makes a picture of a sheep on a rock with his new colors, a painting so real that a lost lamb mistakes it for its mother ewe and returns to the flock. Cimabue, amazed at the boy's talent, agrees to take Giotto into his workshop in Florence. Thus, one of the great Renaissance artists starts on his career. This charming legend will be useful as an introduction to the artist, especially if children are shown examples of the famous frescoes in Padua and in Assisi, which place him as the first of the great Renaissance masters. The illustrations in this picture book take their inspiration from those famous panels, but the colors used here are subdued and dark, in tones of russet and gold and charcoal brown, and the style is modern and expressionistic, far less realistic than Giotto's own work. The border of the last pages contains miniature sketches of Giotto's frescoes of the life of St. Francis.-Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.