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God's Troubadour: The Story of Saint Francis of Assisi Review by Tammy Walker

Sophie Jewett
Yesterday's Classics
PO Box 3418
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

What a sweet introduction to this gentle man! This short text (91 pages), originally printed in 1910, has been republished by Yesterday's Classics in an unabridged format. It is recommended for children 7-10 years old, but it would also make a fine read-aloud if one wanted to discuss issues of character and morality. The author traces the life of Francis Bernardone of Assisi, son of a wealthy merchant, who originally desires power and war. Somewhere along the road of his vain pursuits, his heart changes as he encounters the destitute beggars around him. Unable to continue his life of extravagance, the young man vows to devote himself to "Lady Poverty" and to live his life to be a comfort to the downcast of society. Many others soon follow his example, and they form a brotherhood. Not only is he shown to be compassionate toward people, but even beasts and birds are drawn to his gentle ways.

You will find this to be a wonderful overview of his life, though certainly not a detailed description. For one thing, the author does not choose to give any level of spiritual explanation for his change of heart. Only quite later in the book do we see that his caring for the poor and his acts of mercy toward the unlovable are due to his faith in God and his desire to demonstrate Christ-likeness to the unsaved. We are given snippets of information about pivotal instances in his character development without being given much analysis. For the elementary age level, this may very well be appropriate. It is up to the parents to discuss implications with their children. Do you think Francis was right to commit to a life of poverty against his father's wishes? Why do you think animals were so responsive to the young man? Was his handling of the three robbers Christ-like? What do you think you would have done?

As a means of introducing young children to the man or as a reader to complement one's study of the historical time period, this is a good resource. It "fleshes out" St. Francis's life and times, and it is also very manageable for emerging readers. Hopefully, this short introduction will encourage you and your children to further research the life of this remarkable man.

Product review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2009