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The Clown of God

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  2,698 ratings  ·  140 reviews
In this retelling of the old French legend, a juggler offers to the Christ Child the only Christmas gift he has. “The full-color pictures with subtle tonal modulations are an integral part of the design of the lumious pages full of movement and vitality. The Italianate aspects of the setting are beautifully realized.”--The Horn Book
Paperback, 48 pages
Published September 6th 1978 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1978)
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“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 wr
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to booklady by: Krista the Krazy Kataloguer Hartman
"The Juggler of Notre Dame" is my daughters favorite Christmas movie so I was really excited to read this book and discover that it's the children's version of the French legend told by Anatole France. In The Clown of God an aging juggler thinks he has nothing left to offer God. The admiring crowds and delighted audiences have been replaced with homelessness and hunger. Although this was a story told and retold by storytellers of the Middle Ages, it's as ...more
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kathryn by: Ronyell
A beautiful, slightly bittersweet traditional story from Italy, lovingly retold by Tomie dePaola. Giovanni is a young boy with a penchant for juggling. He grows up and shares his wonderful gift with others all around the country. But, years pass and times get tough, and soon he is not so steady with juggling and audiences are not so kind. Reduced to beggar status, Giovanni enters a church one night--only to be awoken by glorious singing. It is the celebration of the birth of the Christ child! Bu ...more
Gwyneth Evans
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This children's book is poignant, solemn and inspiring. The beautiful, colourful pages will captivate your focus and imagination. The writing is minimal and easy to understand. The religious reference does not detract from the story or theme. The story is profound and may require light discussion after a reading. Such conversation can bring added insight into the theme of a life calling, craft and what it means to give a gift of yourself.

This book is very much an example of such a gift.

A good c
Kristine Hansen
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christmas
I have long loved a movie I saw on TV many years ago - The Juggler of Notre Dame. Every once in a while I discover it again somewhere, and find to my delight that it's still as compelling, and emotionally charged as it was back when I first watched it in 1982.

It's not often a story can stay with you like that, for more than 30 years.

To discover that this tale is actually an old one, and then to further find the story told in a children's book by Tomie dePaola is priceless.

No matter what the te
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cannot read aloud to kids without ugly crying.
Feb 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, middle-ages
33 months - Picked this up at the thrift store for 50 cents. Certainly worth the price and O keeps requesting to read it. We have not delved into God and religion at all with her so her interest is either enjoyment of the story or she is trying to process the story's meaning. It is not unusual for her to request a book over and over until she understands a certain aspect of it... either something to do with the story or the usage of a new word which will often come up in conversation (used corre ...more
Lauren Burrell
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: traditional
I loved this book when i was younger and reading it again as an adult i still do. This is the story of a juggler Giovianni who becomes a famous juggler all through out Italy. He accumulates a rainbow colored set of juggling balls with one gold one. Through out the story his juggling becomes less popular and he has to stop juggling and begin begging for food. He goes to the church at christmas and does a juggling act for Jesus because he has noting else given him. When he gets to the golden ball ...more
Printable Tire
This is the only book I've had the time to read this month! And it took me five minutes to read as I sat in the library!

Anyway. There is a beautiful color palate used in the illustrations, very in keeping with my idea of the time-period it takes place, with a mixture of messier/moodier water colors blended into the pages. The writing is simple and the repetition in the prose helps propel the story. The protagonist goes from young to old very quickly but such is life.
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ellie, jacob, mom
Ellie read to us. Jacob loves this book. It reminds me of the story in the bible where a women puts in 2 coins and Jesus says she has given more than all the rest. The disciples question him saying that others have put in way more than this women. Jesus answered saying she has given everything she has to God...krb 7/18/16

Read for Christmas..krb 12/14/16
Jay Little
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Tomie dePaola is my favorite children's book author and artist, and Clown of God is one of his most amazing achievements. The author has several books with religious themes without being religion books. The story is heartwarming, and yet still brings me to tears all these years later, after so many reads.
Bonnie Pohlig
Love this book! Dr. Brad Wilcox read me this book and made the most profound Spiritual connection. We need to listen to the Spirit to know which "balls" to juggle and which ones we can drop. He really does smile when we are juggling, because that means we are learning.
This was rather a new book to me but it caught my eye since of the fact that the style resembles so much another author whom I enjoy. As a result I chose to flip through the pages then found myself actually reading the story.

It is a very easy story about the three different types of bears that can be found in Alaska and Canada and how they found their current homes. As such it is sweet and a bit nostalgic for those who have struggled to find their own niche.

What makes this book a true winner
Lynn  Davidson
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an old story retold by the author.
A young orphan boy learns how to juggle, and using his skill he entertains people, thereby finding shelter and food for himself. He becomes a famous self-supported juggler until his old age. When he fumbles in his performance the people don't care about him anymore and he is again poor and alone. When he seeks shelter in a monastery something miraculous happens.
Wonderful illustrations.
Billy Noecker
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
The story of a clown named Giovanni. A once prominent juggler and entertainer that used to bring great joy to the people in town. He performed for great people. But a day came when people no longer had interest in him, and soon he was of no value. He finds himself seeing the need to bring a gift to the Christ Child. He juggles for him and gives all he can. And then he falls to the ground, dead.
Kathryn Bergeron
Summary: A clown who travels the world grows old and finds joy.

Why I Read This: I had read half of this with a toddler once, but she got distracted and started crawling on me even as she recited the lines about the golden ball. So, I never finished. Now I've finally finished!

Review: I really love this book. I really love that I made it to the end. The ending just made me smile.
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite stories by dePaola, and one I never tire of reading. It touched me deeply as a child, and I still enjoy it to this day. The ending, in particular, is so amazing that it never leaves you.
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have read many books by this children's author and illustrator. This is a beautiful rendering of an old folk tale. I have a grandson who is a serious juggler, and the story is touching, especially at Christmas.
I would like to buy it for my Christmas book collection.
Andrew Griffiths
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful story from my childhood. Always a marvellous read with kids!
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really well-told folk tale, with dePaola's beautiful illustrations accompanying it. A neat story about how even giving of your talents - just trying to make someone happy - can be a valuable gift.
Asher Bolen
Jan 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
I can't describe on how many levels I can't stand this book.
Jackson Matthews
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful retelling of a legend that has made our family happy for 40 years now! It might make you cry, but it is a definite inspirer.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderful presentation of this familiar tale!
Leah Coffin
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The classics never get old.
C.M. Cruz
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
uma história infantil triste mas bonita 😊
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read The Clown of God this afternoon, and tonight I'm still crying tears of mixed joy and sorrow.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
This book is fun to read and story was very interesting. The moral of the story is really good and the Pictures were amazing!
Shanna Gonzalez
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-04-08
The Clown of God is beautifully-illustrated, well-written retelling of a French legend. The orphan Giovanni achieves great heights of fame through a juggling act that culminates in a rainbow of colored balls, with a golden ball representing "the sun in the heavens." At the height of his fame, some monks tell him his juggling "sings of the glory of God," to which he laughingly retorts, "I only juggle to make people laugh and applaud." As the years pass, Giovanni's popularity wanes until he is for ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: traditional, lis-510
The Clown of God is an illustrated retelling of a French legend done in Tomie dePaola's typical art style, and even though his art style isn't, personally, my favorite, he has written and illustrated many well-known works, so it is probable that I am in the minority here, as far as opinions on his art style go.

The title of this work is slightly misleading, and in fact the confusing phrase was why I initially chose this book to read; I had never heard of such a thing, and wanted to know more (wa
Jan 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Tomie dePaola's version of this classic tale differs substantially from the one written by Barbara Cooney. One big change, among many, is that the action is all set in Italy, whereas Barbara Cooney's story (and virtually all others, if my understanding is correct) takes place in France.

Tomie dePaola brings excellent sensitivity to this heartwarming and heartbreaking fable about a virile young Juggler named Giovanni who ascends to be the unquestionably finest artisan in his chosen skill, and re
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Tomie dePaola (pronounced Tommy da-POW-la) is best known for his books for children.
He's been published for 40 years and has written and/or illustrated over 200 books, including 26 Fairmount Avenue, Strega Nona, and Meet the Barkers.
Tomie dePaola and his work have been recognized with the Caldecott Honor Award, the Newbery Honor Award and the New Hampshire Governor's Arts Award of Living Treasure.