Cover image for Brother Wolf of Gubbio : a legend of Saint Francis
Brother Wolf of Gubbio : a legend of Saint Francis
Santangelo, Colony Elliott.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Brooklyn, N.Y. : Handprint Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
An old and hungry wolf terrorizes the townspeople of Gubbio until Saint Francis shows the villagers how to live peacefully with the wolf.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.1 0.5 68491.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.S245 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.1.S245 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Exquisitely embellished in gold, imbued with the vibrant palette of the Renaissance, and painstakingly rendered on bass wood panels, Brother Wolf embraces the spirit of its time. An old wolf terrorizes the villagers of Gubbio-until Saint Francis brings about a peace between man and animal. This inspiring and favorite legend is richly illuminated and lovingly depicted by a new artist of great talent. A storyteller's ear informs a tale whose gentle message of spirituality and the brotherhood of all living things will strike a resonant chord. Those familiar with art history will delight in finding images which quote famous paintings; all others will simply delight.

Author Notes

Colony Elliott Santangelo has translated her great skill and passion for painting wooden furniture into this, her first book.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. In this retelling of an Italian legend, a hungry wolf terrorizes the village of Gubbio. Desperate, the town baker travels to nearby Assisi, where he asks the holy man Francis for help. Saint Francis meets with the wolf, who agrees that if the townspeople feed him, he will live with them peaceably. The wolf becomes a beloved member of the village, where he lives happily and dies of old age. Occasionally, the characters seem to be out of sync with the quiet telling. But the focus is really on the design work and the mood it conveys: basswood panels with pictures executed in ink and colored pencil and burnished with gold. The best illustrations give a sense of peering through a window into another time. Even better, they capture the heightened spirituality of the everyday world that is at the heart of the saint's calling. Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Some unnecessary embellishing reduces the drama in this adaptation of the legend of Saint Francis of Assisi's taming of a fierce wolf. Debut author/artist Santangelo begins with an explanation of the lone wolf's presence in Gubbio (he has been supplanted by a new alpha wolf) and the anthropomorphized predator's first kill ("The wolf was awakened by the rumbling of his empty belly. He saw a lamb and trembled with hunger"). The subsequent painting, rendered in inks and colored pencils on wood, shows the shepherd on a hillside of perfectly placed daisies, his face meant to express "wonder and fear"; he kneels by a small pile of bones and wool near the wolf's pawprints. Santangelo casts the wolf as increasingly pitiable: "He was only one old wolf, grayhaired and scrawny, but the people picked up sticks and stones and threw them, shouting angrily." In so thoroughly soliciting readers' sympathy for the wolf, Santangelo makes Francis's extraordinary behavior (seeking out the wolf and talking to him gently) seem logical, not saintly, and the wolf's agreement to live in peace with the people of Gubbio becomes ordinary, not miraculous. In keeping with the more secular flavor of this telling, Saint Francis does not ask for the wolf's cooperation in Christ's name, as he does in most versions (the predator does, however, lift his paw to the saint's hand). Readers will find a more aesthetically pleasing and fluid presentation of the story in Margaret Mayo and Peter Malone's recent Brother Sun, Sister Moon: The Life and Stories of Saint Francis. Ages 6-10. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-While some books, like Tomie dePaola's Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi (Holiday, 1982), focus on the story of the saint's life, others, like Margaret Mayo's beautiful Brother Sun, Sister Moon (Little, Brown, 2000), deal in large part with the stories associated with this holy man. Santangelo tells one familiar part of the legend, one that deals as much with a wolf as it does with St. Francis. This wolf is old, a deposed leader that separates from his pack and stays in a cave near Gubbio, venturing out only to hunt. The village is terrorized, and St. Francis is summoned from a neighboring town to help. Gentle and kindly, he soon recognizes that the animal is merely hungry, and he convinces the villagers that if they feed it, it will be no threat. Ultimately, the wolf becomes an integral part of the small community. Using colored pencil and ink on bass wood, Santangelo has created rich and evocative art, beginning with the glorious endpapers and continuing to the image of the lone wolf on the last page. The drawings convey the peacefulness and love of St. Francis, and at the same time reflect the essential goodness of the animal. Though the story is from the Christian tradition, it transcends religion and instead emphasizes the need to live in harmony with the natural world.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.