Friday, June 23, 2017

PPBF: Renato and the Lion

Perfect Picture Book Friday is on vacation, but I couldn't resist sharing one more perfect picture book which celebrated its release June 20th. This way you'll have all summer to share it with the your favorite people. For my previous reviews, you can search here.

Please join me next week for Summer Drive-in, a new feature which highlights some of my favorite books-turned movies.

Renato and the Lion, by text and art by Barbara DiLorenzo
Renato and the Lion

Written and illustrated by Barbara DiLorenzo

Viking Children's Books, June 2017
Ages 5-7, 44 words

WW II, Art, Magical Realism

"Renato loved his home in Florence, Italy. He loved the people there. And the food there. But he especially loved the art there. It was everywhere."

Renato lives in Florence and often visits the museum where his father works. He loves the art found all around the city, but especially the lion in the Piazza della Signoria. When war comes to Italy, Renato's father has a plan to protect the sculptures, except Renato's beloved lion. Using a bit of magical realism, the author communicates the dangers of war and the plight of refugees. Renato completes his life's journey, returning to Italy years later to learn the lion's fate.

What I Love:
An unused illustration of Renato
by Barbara DiLorenzo

I've been waiting for this book. The cover and concept had me hooked before I ever opened the cover. The gentle storytelling and expressive watercolors transport kids to another time and place. Barbara evokes a sense of danger and impending loss through the main character's relationship with the sculpted lion. She manages to layer a lot of story into this little book, making it a great read for older readers, too. Her thorough research shows in the tiny details. Readers will learn bits about World War II, art, immigration, history, and the breathtaking city of Florence. And I hope this Renato will be a starting point for lifelong curiosity about these subjects.

Cindy Ingram, art teacher,
thoroughly explains how art influenced
public thought during WW II.
1. Barbara DiLorenzo has hinted she'll be posting behind-the-scenes tidbits and easter eggs from Renato and the Lion on her Facebook page. Follow along and get the scoop.

2. Don't just take my word for it. The Booklist Reader has posted a review with perspectives from both adult and child readers and from those who have actually visited Florence. Take a look at what they had to say.

3. Learn more about the two lions in the Piazza della Signoria on Florence Inferno.

4. Travel For Kids lists at least ten great places to visit in Florence. Ciao Bambino! highlights tips and links for taking kids to Italy.

5. Cathy Ballou Mealey posted a great article on Nancy Schon's sculpture and getting kids to interact with art.

6. Try making a papier mache lion pinata from Inna's Creations.

7. I love this video how to for lion pancakes with orange slices, posted on Good to Know.

8. National Geographic Kids lists ten quick facts about World War II, an interesting jumping off point. highlights the war in Italy for older readers. And Mindshift offers a list of videos to give kids an overview of the war.

9. Check out these and more related Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Clara

Reviewed by Patient Dreamer
Reviewed by Julie

Reviewed by Leslie

Reviewed by Joanne

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

View other the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Fridays available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. Wonderful review of a picture book that I've been waiting to read. I love all of the resources you've shared! Thank you!

    1. Thanks for checking out my review. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do.

  2. Replies
    1. Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!

  3. Thank you for the kind review Joanne! I really appreciate your love and support for RENATO AND THE LION. I'm honored that you reviewed the book–and would have responded sooner–but my 3-month old baby is keeping my hands full. :-) A good hurdle, but it's keeping my response time at a dismally slow rate.

    1. No apologies necessary. I admire your ability to juggle a baby and anything else at all! The bulk of my writing has been done now that my kids are older. We love this book and look forward to what's coming next. Thanks for coming by.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!