The 14th-century painter Giotto is brought to life through this story of a boy, Mario, who helps the great man solve the problem of how to bring life to the sky as he paints his Nativity fresco in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. It is McClure’s sensitively mixed watercolours that bring the whole thing to life. Her delicate combinations of blue and brown hues perfectly conjure up the period. The characterisation of boy and master artist are subtly understated providing an excellent pictorial representation of the relationship between the two. Mario wants to be a fresco painter. His conversations with the master introduce the reader to the radical nature of Giotto’s representation of the human figure at the time. As he generally gets under the artist’s feet, Mario learns that Father Prior has expressed doubts over Giotto’s sky. That night, a chance remark by his father gives Mario an idea. He runs to the artist the next morning with his inspired solution.
There are many books introducing children to the arts. This one is written and illustrated sensitively and in a way that does justice to its subject.