Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pippo the Fool by Tracey E. Fern

This is a delightful picture book that educates as well as entertains. It is the story of Filippo Brunelleschi, a 15th century architect and inventor in Florence, Italy.
Like many brilliant people, Brunelleschi didn’t get much respect in his earlier years. His inventions were considered silly, giving him the nickname of Pippo the Fool.
Fern describes a little man who’s grouchy and prickly, but also determined to make a name for himself and gain the respect he knows he deserves. Other people may not respect Pippo’s mind, but he knows his own worth. And he’s willing to work hard.
When the city fathers hold a contest to design a dome to complete the city’s new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, Pippo recognizes his chance – and his challenge.
Nobody has ever built such a large dome. Nobody even knows for sure that it can be done. Surely the weight of the building materials would cause it to collapse!
A number of master builders, including Pippo’s arch-rival Lorenzo Ghiberti, enter the contest. The judges are unimpressed with most of the designs, including Pippo’s, which lacks any visible supports. They throw him out, and continue to mull over the various submissions.
But Pippo doesn’t give up easily. He goes home and starts collecting the materials to make a model of his dome. He completes the model and shows it to the judges. Two years after the contest began, the judges make their decision.
So who won the contest? Did Pippo ever earn the respect he craved? You can find out by reading this book!

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