A Commedia dell'Arte Tale set in the sun-drenched streets of Renaissance Venice.
Angelo longs to be a clown as famous as his grandfather Zan Polo. But times have changed and Venetians no longer flock to see Zan Polo's commedia dell'arte troupe perform in the Piazza San Marco. On Carnival Day, Zan Polo reluctantly gives his grandson a small part, and Angelo rushes off, bursting with ideas, to visit the mask and costume makers and Aunt Rosa-bella's farmyard. Things don't go quite as planned for Angelo -- but that afternoon he redeems himself and revives his family's fortunes in a most surprising way.
Celebrate the first triumph of a very young actor in Niki Daly's winning, lushly illustrated new picture book.
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Niki Daly lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with his wife, Jude Daly, who also writes and illustrates for children. He is the creator of several acclaimed picture books, including Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky, which was a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year.
Grade 1-4-Commedia dell'arte, for all of its pratfalls and broad humor, remains a sophisticated dramatic form, especially for young listeners, but Daly brings it to life with this timeless and universal battle of wills between two generations. Angelo wants a role in his grandfather's production, but the curmudgeon points out that the boy is too short, too skinny, or too young to play any of the traditional roles. Angelo cajoles until he's given the part of a heard-but-not-seen rooster. Undiminished in spirit, he visits a mask maker, seamstress, and barnyard to perfect his role. That afternoon, the unscripted appearance of the little rooster on stage and the ensuing chaos delight the audience but result in a stern scolding for the child. Only when the grandfather receives an invitation to perform for the nobility does he appreciate the new life the rooster has added to the performance and consents to give his grandson a small part. Angelo, as persistent as ever, holds out for something grander and his final "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" is delivered center stage. Set in large but unobtrusive frames, the flowing watercolors capture both the milky light of Venice and the exaggerated figures of the commedia dell'arte. Eighteenth-century Italy comes alive in the details found in the shops, the farmyard, and the clothing. Plucky and determined Angelo and his equally stubborn grandfather are believable and endearing. Their lively dialogue is aptly sprinkled with the occasional Italian expression and the writing is both precise and lyrical. The resolution of their conflict will have listeners cheering "Bravo!" along with the audience.
Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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