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Renato and the Lion — 16 Comments

  1. Following the character, Renato, through the trials of up and moving. Children can relate from having to transition quickly in the most basic setting-to the escape for safety in high-risk areas for survival. The art teacher would be able to use this book through the watercolor pics. All ages will be able to get something out of this story…the lion…the size/the safety/ the escape. 4 stars…

  2. This would be a good book to read during coursework on Italy or art. Kids would be interested to know how much work went into saving all those sculptures during the war. It could lead into a discussion on upkeep of artwork and how artists fix damaged works. I have to say, I really liked the illustrations. Their faces were sweet and I loved the water color feel with all of the mellow colors. It is nice that Renato got to share his love for the lion with his granddaughter; I am surprised it took him so long to visit his long ago home.

  3. Loved, loved, loved this book! Probably my top one of this list. I enjoyed the story talking about how they were saving the art and wondered how they were going to save the lion. I was a bit confused on the lion taking him home, but it would make for great discussion with the kids. I thought it was going to end with him growing up in NYC but was happy to see it circle around to him going back to Florence. There would be compare/contrast between his two trips and a lot of history to discuss. I’d use this with our immigration unit as a read aloud. Took be to the story “The Mysterious Giant of Barletta” by Tomie de Paola. *****

  4. This is one of my favorites on the list. I especially loved how Renato created a relationship to the art that surrounded him, including the lion. Again, I loved how the story educates the reader about what happened in history and how the citizens protected the art they cherished. The illustrations were lovely and added to the story, creating another layer of art appreciation. Finally, having Renato share the story of the lion with his granddaughter was a great element to add – perhaps encouraging a parent or grandparent to share their own histories with their grandchildren. Again – one of my favorites.

  5. Being a WW2 history fan, I was intrigued by the story line. I would use this as a mentor text for talking about historical fiction genre, or the questioning comprehension strategy. I agree with several comments referring to the lion and coming to life dream scene. While confusing, perhaps this could be used in a “I wonder…” thinking stem.
    I rate this 4 stars.

  6. Such beautiful illustrations. This book would be great for the study of sculptures in art. How neat to see places in Florence, Italy and then look up the real life images. I enjoyed the book immensely.

  7. Wow! This story and its illustrations were absolutely breathtaking. I teared up a bit at the end when Renato went back with his granddaughter and the lion was still there. The author’s note made me very sad as well. These are stories that must be told and shared as much as possible. I think this would be a great story for an art or history or social studies curriculum. It’s an excellent book for pleasure reading as well. I’d love to read it during storytime but fear it may be just a bit too long. 5/5 stars

  8. I think that this book could be used with my fourth graders when they are reading Number the Stars. I think reading stories of how children in different countries were impacted by the same war could deepen their understanding of the term “World War.” Like another person stated in their review, I don’t think that the magical dream ride on the lion helped the story at all…definitely more of a hindrance. I also felt like the part with his granddaughter saying “We have to go!” seemed a little too easy/pat…not many adults will be convinced to travel abroad simply because a child suggests it. I see how it served the story, but it was a bit abrupt.
    3 stars

  9. This was one of my favorite stories! I’ve been to Florence and have visited many of the places that are mentioned. I don’t remember the lions, but do remember the statue of David, the Boboli gardens and the beautiful fountains. The author has woven the history of Italy and its people so well around this story. Her watercolor paintings are so well done and perfect for the story. 2nd and 3rd graders would love this story and could understand Renato’s attachment to the lion.

  10. I was surprised by the unique subject matter chosen. This is actually a story about the WWII occupation of Florence, Italy, and how families were impacted. The family has to relocate to America. This is the history shared by so many Americans. I read it to my four year old granddaughter. She asked for it to be read to her again. The story line is excellent, and the artwork beautifull! It reminds me of the book by Tomie de Paola, The Mysterious Giant of Barletta, complete with Italian words. I learned something too! I learned how the statues were bricked in to protect them. I give this book 4 stars.

  11. Barbara DiLorenzo did a beautiful job on the watercolor illustrations and writing a fun book. Yes the part when Renato fell asleep while hiding may not have been clear, but that can open brainstorming from students on “what happened?”. That is left for the readers imagination. Did his father find him asleep there? Barbara’s use of weaving in facts made the book more enjoyable fo me to read.i think children will find it a fun read! ****

  12. I love Florence, so it was great seeing the cityscape. The story reminded me of the book and movie “Monuments Men,” even going as far as going back to view the art with a grandchild. Art History and Humanities were my favorite classes, so I really enjoyed the history and art depicted in this book. That being said, I don’t know about having this book in my classroom. I thought I missed a page when Renato hid on the lion and then the lion started walking around. It seems like that part had no reason or resolution. The watercolor illustrations were beautiful. They gave the story kind of a dream quality.

  13. As Mary mentioned earlier, I, too, have mixed feelings about this book. I was confused as to why the lion suddenly came to life. I read the author’s notes on how the idea for this book came into being, but it still didn’t make sense. The best part of this book was the references to the art and how it needed protecting along with the trip back as an adult with the granddaughter. I don’t think this is one that I would add to my classroom library, but it might be one that I would suggest to our art teacher who is creating a library in her room for students.

  14. This was a very cute story. The illustrations were great. I would use this book during a social studies lesson for a couple different topics. I think my students would defiantly pick this book to read independently. I rate this book at a 4.

  15. I have mixed feelings about this book. I was enjoying it and agree that art is so important and it should be protected. Out of no where the statue comes to life?? Not sure why the author did this. I feel Iike it ruined the story. I am unsure if this would be a good book for school. I know art is very important, but there are a few nude statues in this. Even if the bodies aren’t showing too much, it just may not be something for 2-3 graders.
    I give this book 2 stars.

  16. Another book that I was surprised my 4 year old enjoyed. He loves the part where Renato takes his granddaughter to see the lion years later. So sweet.

    This book would make a great read aloud for any grade. I’d recommend it for classrooms studying that part of the world or that era in history.

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