with Lynne and Leslie

Book Review: Francesco, Artist of Florence

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here!

Today, I have the pleasure of reviewing a really cool children’s book (maybe 8-years old and up) called “Francesco, Artist of Florence”, by Anita Mathias. We haven’t done anything like this in awhile, so when we  got the chance to read this book and write about it, we jumped.

And I am so glad that we did. 

The book tells the story of Francesco, a humble artist in Italian Renaissance-era Florence who creates beautiful and intricate chests and clocks and the like, decorated with precious stones.  He finds joy in the privilege it is to be able to make such beautiful things, and his work is adored. It gives him great pleasure to see people enjoy his work, and this has become a problem: his customers use that to offer much less for his work than everyone knows that it is worth, and because he can’t bear to not give the people what they want, he gets cheated, over and over again. But he continues to do it because his art is so much more than a commodity to him. It is an offering, the product of his love for what he does. As an artist myself (I sing and act and teach), this story really made me think about my own love of what I do, and how it is hard to put a tangible value on it, and how we cheat ourselves in what we are really worth. That’s a whole different blog post.

But I think that this book has a really good lesson for all of us, kids included, in what passion for what you do looks like, and about how rich forgiveness is. It could also kick off great discussions with your kids on how Francesco’s customers could have honored that passion better, and how Francesco could honor those customers in making his work accessible, but by honoring himself. It is also beautiful to look at, and is illustrated with actual Renaissance-era art. Check it out!


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