Well, happy feastday!
I was going to write a post about the genesis of Adventures in Assisi, but Lisa Hendey saved me the trouble by requesting an interview with us.
Q: What prompted you to write/illustrate “Adventures in Assisi” and what will our readers discover in this book?
Amy: I love history and I love to travel and the saints are central to my Catholic spirituality. In my teaching and writing, I’ve always particularly enjoyed bringing Catholic tradition and history to readers and listeners and many of my books reflect that interest.
St. Francis of Assisi has always interested me not only because his is a truly compelling, radical figure, but also because he is rather mysterious. The radical nature of his conversion and the singularity of his journey is unique, but the legends and stories that have grown around him over the past eight hundred years have only added to the mystique and have always piqued my curiosity. My earliest encounters with Francis were both quite memorable, although both were rooted, I now understand, in more fiction, personal ideology and a cultural moment than fact – reading NIkos Kazantzakis’ St. Francis as a teenager and seeing Brother Sun, Sister Moon with my friends from the Catholic campus ministry in college. Despite the serious limitations of both, what moved me in these works was my vivid and thought-provoking encounter with the possibility that radical sacrifice was, paradoxically, the path to fullness of life.
In the subsequent years, I encountered St. Francis here and there. I taught his story when I taught high school theology. I wrote about him in the Loyola books. I wrote about his prayers in The Words We Pray. Over the years, I probably read every existing children’s picture book about Francis to my own children, most of which were about either the wolf of Gubbio or the Christmas creche.
And then, a few years ago, I read the new biography of Francis by Fr. Augustine Thompson OP – Francis of Assisi: A New Biography. It’s a tight, compact, rich work, and Fr.Thompson’s insights struck me to the core, so once again, St. Francis moved me…. MORE
Q: Ann, please say a few words on the artwork in this new book. How did you conceive of the characters “look”? What type of research do you have to undertake to artfully depict a venue like Assisi?
Ann: I was able to visit Assisi on two occasions, once with my teenage children and another time alone with my husband. I was able to walk the same paths as the characters in this book as they followed St. Francis’ footsteps.
I took countless photos because the style of my work is quite detailed, and I wanted the reader to authentically experience the exquisite Umbrian landscapes, the extraordinary architecture that is both grand and humble, and the simple beauty of the country roads and olive groves that surround St. Francis’ hilltop hometown….
NET-TV – the Brooklyn diocese television station – went to Ann’s house this week to interview her about her work. I hope it is put online, and when it is, I’ll let you know.