Genre: Religion / Drama
Year Published: 1978
Year Read: 2010
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
“The Clown of God” is an Italian folktale retold by Tomie dePaola, famous for his “Strega Nona” books. This book is about how a young boy named Giovanni becomes a famous juggler all around Italy while learning the true meaning of spreading happiness around the world. “The Clown of God” is a truly touching story that children will love for many years.
Tomie dePaola has done an excellent job at both illustrating and writing this book about the true meaning of spreading happiness. Tomie dePaola’s writing is much more serious and dramatic in this book than in his “Strega Nona” series as he discusses the matter of religion and about the poverty that Giovanni has to go through in his life. Tomie dePaola has done an excellent job at creating sympathy for the main character Giovanni as he goes through poverty after his parents’ death and suddenly becomes a famous juggler after his special abilities are discovered and Giovanni’s touching story will help many children realize that everyone has a special ability that can bring happiness to other people if they care about the impact that their special abilities will have on the world. Tomie dePaola’s illustrations are much more beautiful than in his “Strega Nona” series, especially as he draws the characters’ expressions in a realistic way and the characters are drawn in a more fluid manner as the characters appearances are so smooth.
Parents should know that the ending of this book is a bit sad as it deals with the death of a person. I will not reveal who dies at the end of the book, but the idea of death presented in this book might frightened smaller children and parents should explain to their children about the issues of death before they read them this book.
“The Clown of God” is a truly heartwarming and touching story about the importance of spreading happiness around the world and many children will enjoy this book’s message about true happiness. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up due to the sad ending and the religious theme might confuse smaller children.