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Author: Tracey Fern

Illustrator: Pau Estrada

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Publisher: Charlesbridge,

Material: hard cover

Summary: It is the Renaissance in Florence, Italy. A time when artists and craftsmen were celebrated for their great works. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore needed a dome that reflected the spirit of the day, so the city fathers held a contest. The winner would build the dome. Filippo Bruneschelli, an inventor and craftsman, jumped at the chance to compete. Finally, he would be recognized as the brilliant man he was. He would no longer be called a fool. The city fathers loved his idea. But when he would not share the details, they eliminated him from the contest. Pippo was crushed ... why couldn't everyone see his genius? He had a plan: he would create a model of his masterpiece. Would it be enough to win over the judges? This picture book tells the story of Filippo Brunelleschi and the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, easy reader, learning to read, developing reader

Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 10; read yourself: 11 to 13

Interest Level: 5 to 9

Reading Level: 2.5

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: Bravo! This is an exceptional book. Although the tale is fictional, the story is built on historical fact. Together, the author and illustrator have done a masterful job presenting the Renaissance in a way that has meaning to young readers. The interaction among the characters - particularly Lorenzo and Pippo - layer this period piece with timeless themes of jealousy, fairness, and integrity. The story makes this a nice candidate for remedial readers who want/need more sophisticated content.

Pros: Pippo the Fool makes it fun and easy to introduce history to kids. The author's efforts to create recognizable characters will engage audiences in the story.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a definite must for the elementary and public libraries. It makes the Renaissance accessible to kids both in its storytelling and in its imagery.


Educational Themes: There is so much you can do with this story. The Renaissance is filled with people like Filippo Brunellieshi who explored all aspects of culture and art. There is a list of resources in the back that can guide you in exploring more about the Renaissance, architecture, and many of the celebrated people kids have heard but know little about.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 2.5; Guided Reading Level J

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, architecture, historical fiction

Date(s) Reviewed: February 2009

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