Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Favorite Picture Books: The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane

The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane by C. M. Millen, illustrated by Andrea Wisnewski

Brother Theophane isn't very focused on his copywork in the scriptorium. He's sent to make the brown ink, instead, but a foray into the forest for bark yields more interesting results. This book lets us peek into the world of illuminated manuscripts during the Middle Ages. Brother Theophane is an imaginary monk, but the development of beautiful colored ink and elaborate decorations on manuscripts is real enough. A nice note at the end gives background to the creation of inks and illuminated manuscripts.

I like how Brother Theophane, while not quite like the other staid monks, is portrayed without condemnation or bitterness. His colored ink is welcomed by the others but their calm and steady monastery life continues.

Andrew Wisnewski's illustrations are fabulous. They manage to create some of the beauty of illuminated manuscripts within a print with lots of wonderful details that connect to the story for those willing and eager to seek through them.

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