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The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane
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The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Winner of the 2011 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

In a monastery in the mountains of Mourne during the Middle Ages, one young monk struggled to focus on his task: copying the Bible and other scholarly books with plain brown ink made from wood bark in plain brown books in his plain brown robe at his plain brown desk. Brother Theophane was soon transferred from the scribe’
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Charlesbridge (first published January 1st 2010)
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4.05  · 
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 ·  144 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
What a beautiful book! Millen here tells a story in rhyme describing how a young monk invents the different colored inks that were used to illuminate medieval Irish manuscripts. The illustrations by Wisnewski are perfect for the book--bright and illuminating themselves. Interspersed here and there are scraps of writings by monks of that time period, as they complain about boredom or how much their hand hurts, or praising the beauty of the day. Makes me want to hop into a time machine and travel ...more
Diana Maria
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
What a delightful little gem made out of the story of brother Theophane as he discovers ways to make beautiful ink to add charming colours to the texts written in the monastery he lives in, and how he finds his vocation along with 'peace in his mind and joy in his heart', a story written in verse and accompanied by beautiful and rich illustrations which gives you a genuine feeling that you are in fact reading a book written in the MIddle Ages in a monastery by the dear brother Theophane.
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really nice illustrations, especially the decorative border.

The rhythm of the poem really reminds me of Madeline.
Oct 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
These stars are the average of 4 stars for the illustrations and 2 stars for the text and zero stars for the theme.

The illustrations are gorgeous, with the neat trick of appearing lively while echoing the more static feel of medieval woodcuts and illuminations. The text is fine; the rhymes themselves are not bad, the flow of the story works.

But I couldn't get past the book's implication that the discovery of colored inks was the result of a single person's inspiration and experimentation. In f
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was first introduced to this book by way of my 1st grader. It was assigned reading (me to him, aloud) for 1st grade. But its one of those books that seems to draw everyone in. The drawings are marvelous, each page an illumination in and of itself.

True, in some places, the verse the author put together was stilted for the sake of rhyme and that, in places, made for a somewhat clumsy read aloud. Also, I found it difficult to transition from the sing-song verse of the storyline to the [more beaut
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This beautifully illustrated rhyming book is a great addition to any book collection. It is about a monk named Brother Theophane who gets bored with the color brown that he is writing with. He loved to look out the window and daydream about the beauty of everything. He discovered ways to create different colors with flowers, fruits, berries, and roots. He created beautiful manuscripts and pictures. Monks such as Brother Theophane did actually play with colors to create beautiful books and pictur ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: doodle-books
Absolutely beautiful illustrations.
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: children
Recommended to Sarah by: journal
Shelves: picture-book
When I read the review of this book in a literary journal, I was really excited! I have a love of anything Medieval (my MA is in Early English Literature) and I thought this story would be right up my alley. But, as it turns out, not really...

This story is about a monk named Brother Theophane whose job is to copy text (along with other monks). However, Theophane isn't that great at his job because he daydreams all the time and feeds birds crumbs on the nearby windowsill. He eventually gets demot
Best for kids ages 6 and up.
Early Literacy Skills: Print Motivation, Vocabulary, Phonological Awareness, Narrative Skills

From cover:
Theophane worked at his simple brown desk, writing simple brown writing like all of the rest. But Brother Theophane isn't like the other monks. Sometimes he can't help but stare out the window and daydream. He knows there;s more to life than brown ink, brown words, and brown books. If only he could open his brothers' eyes to the color and beauty of the world ...

In t
Skye Kilaen
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous, gorgeous illustrations in this book about the Irish monks who kept much of Europe's knowledge preserved during the Dark Ages. Brother Theophane just doesn't quite fit in! All the other monks are perfectly content to do things the same way they've always been done. But when Theophane looks out the monastery window, he sees glorious nature! It's a little distracting from his copying work. When he's reassigned to make the brown ink all the monks use, though, he finds his true calling in t ...more
I can see Brother Theophane, like Dave the Potter, inspiring a lot of art projects this year. This book can extend in so many directions - we can use it to talk about history, creativity, religion, and science. Links to ink recipes (provided) can lead to ingredient lists that can inform nature and garden walks, or even trips to the grocery or hardware store. And have I even mentioned the art? I have not even mentioned the art!

Full review on Pink Me:
Michael Morris
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
This is a charming and delightful book about a daydreaming monk who discovers how to make different colors of ink to illuminate the books transcribed by he and the brothers in his monastery. As much about art and chemistry and poetry as it is about work and imagination, I could not stop smiling as I read the story and gazed at the illustrations. I may be 50, but I felt like a child as I experienced the wonderful tale.
Nov 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
Beautifully illustrated, this book tells the story of Brother Theophane (a common name for monks during the Middle Ages), and the way in which he introduced color, or "illumination", to the manuscripts which the monks were transcribing. Told in verse, the book includes facts on monasteries and the art of illumination.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2012-13
During Medieval times, the monks wrote and "illuminated" the stories they had read. It could be a tedious process and Brother Theophane was often distracted by what was happening out his window. When banished from scribing and in search of bark for the brown ink, Theophane discovers that different berries and leaves can bring color to their work. Beautiful illustrations.
Hugh Meyer
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Touching broadly on the tradition of illuminated texts and how the use of color may have developed in monasteries, I'm not sure how well this might hold a younger child's attention, but as an adult I found the book charming. It's nicely illustrated and provides an afterword that goes into more detail.
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pb
Very pretty pictures. I liked how part of the book was his own story/writing (albeit fictitiously). Nice introduction for little kids regarding the making of ink or monastery life so long ago. Irish setting.
During the Dark Ages, monks working in scriptoriums captured the great literature of the time in illuminated manuscripts. Told in verse, this book shows the monks' transition from writing in brown, boring ink to their use of natural products like plants to develop colored inks.
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
Makes you want to grow a garden, produce your inks and dyes, and create beautiful books! - But wait! I don't have to because here it is done for me. Lovely book.
Beautiful rich illustrations. Useful in teaching about the dark ages, dyes, making things from nature.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Josiphine/Tessa by: Cinco Ranch Branch library display
This is a lovely picture book.
Aug 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Lovely, lovely pictures. An interesting topic kids don't deal with much. I could see pairing this book with a painting or ink-making program for elementary kids.
I would have liked it better if it were not a story in rhyme.
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
This was part of our homeschooling curriculum and it is a beautiful book with a delightful story!
Edward Sullivan
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Wonderful story about a medieval Irish monk who creates color ink for illuminated manuscripts. Beautifully illustrated, lyrical text.
Oct 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Picked this up off the library shelf today because it talks about Irish monks and natural dying. Very interesting. Beautiful illustrations.
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Feb 14, 2015
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Tom Franklin
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Jun 23, 2015
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Dec 13, 2016
Kelly Buchanan
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Sep 17, 2012
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