The Clown of God

by Tomie DePaola

Paperback, 1978



Call number




HMH Books for Young Readers (1978), 48 pages


A once-famous Italian juggler, now old and a beggar, gives one final performance before a statue of Our Lady and the Holy Child.

User reviews

LibraryThing member sullijo
I first encountered The Clown of God in college, during a course on spirituality and developmental psychology. It tells the story of a poor beggar boy who finds joy and fame in his juggling -- and surprising blessings as well.

dePaola does an excellent job adapting this "old story" to medieval
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Italy; the setting fits the story like a glove. The delightful illustrations bring the story to life. My children love pouring over the rich images.

A great story for kids and adults alike, The Clown of God gets my highest recommendation.
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LibraryThing member NUMCLibrary
Wonderful legend for illuminating stewardship and the offering of gifts and talents. Appropriate for 2nd grade and up.
LibraryThing member June6Bug
A beautifully illustrated story about the gift of one's self.
LibraryThing member eecnelsen
This book has many angles you could teach from. I think the biggest lesson is that we are born with nothing and die with nothing. The clown became famous but in the end of his life he was just as he was when he was young. He was poor and had to beg for food. I loved the book it was very touching
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but I think it would be hard to teach a lesson with.
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LibraryThing member srrush
The story is about a little boy named Giovanni who was a poor beggar. He had a gift of juggling and entertained many people throughout the years. As he grew older, Giovanni became less and less popular. He loved juggling but people did not stop to watch him anymore. Putting aside juggling forever,
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he went on a long journey and eventually fell asleep in a church. He woke up to a processional honoring the statue of the child and his mother, Jesus and Mary. After everyone left Giovanni went before the statue and offered all that he had, his gift of juggling. He died while juggling and the statue of the child remains looking at the juggler and holding the golden ball, called the "Sun of the Heavens"
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LibraryThing member coresonk
Lovingly illustrated by Tomie dePaola, this tale brought me to tears. The story of Giovanni the clown who brings joy to all the people of Italy, until he becomes old and they turn on him. So he goes home and falls asleep in the church. His last act in life is to try to bring joy to the Holy Child
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on Christmas day. It's really beautiful. This could be a great morality tale to share with children. The message that sometimes just putting a smile on someone's face is a good deed.
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LibraryThing member MarthaL
A wonderfully illustrated and awesome book with profound message for adults as well as older children. Themes include vocation, aging, determination, religious devotion and the miraculous. A good read aloud in Christian schools especially, but well suited when a multicultural theme is wanted..
LibraryThing member hvachetta
Giovanni the juggler learns that his gift can be used to give glory to God. This is a retelling of a French oral legend. Tomie de Paola, like many storytellers before him, has changed some aspects to fit his own experience, and has given the story an Italian setting. This book is recommended for
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children in 2nd grade and up. It could be effectively used as a supplement to lessons in early childhood religion classes or Sunday school.
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LibraryThing member fashionablyloud1
One of my favorite authors growing up, my son too! When reading any Tomie de Paola it is even more entertaining with an Italian accent! The rhymes are fun & catchy, melodic to my 2 year old! Reading this story at breakfast time always makes for a happy day!
LibraryThing member dukefan86
This is an interesting story (and legend) about a boy with a gift for entertaining audiences with his juggling. The story lends itself well to dePaola's colorful drawing style!
LibraryThing member AudreyLast
This book was actually a big surprise for me. I think it has a lot of religious influence and a strong message. The illustrations really give a lot to the story. It shows how Giovanni grows with age and sadness, and how his clothes became rags. The pictures also show how the crowds reacted to his
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juggling, when they loved him, and they hated him after he dropped the golden ball. Also, the story line showed how Giovanni’s life gave him great experiences. He had no mother and father, but fended for himself and figured out how to survive through his juggling. Giovanni then goes to discover how happy he can make others with his skill. He uses it to make people laugh and smile, but only realizes this at the end of the story when he needs to give a gift to the Holy Child. The big message in the book is to never take for granted a skill. It can eventually lead you to something great. In Giovanni’s case, he ended up dying with the Holy Child accepting Giovanni’s gift.
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LibraryThing member Macmom
my favorite Tomie dePaola book.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

11 inches


0156181924 / 9780156181921

Other editions

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