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St. Francis and the Animals: A Mother Bird's Story by Phil Gallery

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In this enchanting fictional children’s picture book based on the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, Mother Bird insists that her son Benjamin Bird listen to her tell the story of the venerated saint’s life before he takes his first flight. She also demands that he remember every word so one day he can repeat the stories to his own children.

Mother Bird recalls several scenes in Francis’s life—as a young man, he wants to become a warrior hero, but God intervenes and tells him to return home; Francis talks to the birds and they fly to him, some alighting on his shoulders and head; he frees Sister Rabbit from a trap and at first she wants to remain with him; he talks to aggressive Brother Wolf who finally agrees to live peaceably with the surrounding villagers.

When Mother Bird finishes her tale, Benjamin Bird expresses his desire to one day meet Saint Francis. His wish is granted in a surprising way. After taking flight, he makes a crash landing, falling at the feet of a sandaled man in a long robe. Francis consoles Benjamin Bird, urging him not to be afraid and encouraging him that soon he’ll be able to fly.

Illustrator Sibyl MacKenzie’s verdant, peaceful watercolor paintings highlight the glory and goodness of God’s creation and the love Saint Francis poured out on all creatures as “he spent his life teaching all living things that we are brothers and sisters because we are all made by God.” Phil Gallery’s technique of telling the saint’s story from the perspective of Mother Bird is a sure way to capture children’s attention. (Paraclete Press)

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