The Clown of God, an old story told and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
The Clown of God is a touching story, a children’s story, a Christmas story, and a clown ministry story — all at the same time. In a nutshell, an orphaned street urchin goes begging from door to door, juggling for his food. He joins a traveling troupe of entertainers, and gains fame and fortune as a juggler, until he grows old, and again becomes a homeless beggar.
On one cold night, he seeks shelter in a nearby church, and falls asleep. He awakens to the site of the townspeople offering gifts to statues of the baby Jesus and his mother. The crowd leaves, and our juggler approaches, to see that the statues are sad. He puts on his clown face, and juggles as he never has before, to put a smile on the divine Child’s face. He dies of a heart attack in the attempt. The monks in the church, who thought that his performance was sacrilegious, turn to see that the statue of Mary and the baby Jesus are now smiling. The message of the story seems to be that it is not what you can offer the Lord, but the spirit in which you offer it, that really matters.
Rated 5 clowns
Editorial Review of The Clown of God, an old story told and illustrated by Tomie DePaola
This story takes place in a town called Sorrento. There is really only one main character, and his name is Giovanni. Giovanni was a poor boy who didn’t have any parents. He could juggle very well, and would juggle for food. He would juggle different kinds of fruit like zucchini, lemons, eggplants, oranges, and apples. Signor Baptistaâs wife gave him the food because he brought people in to buy her fruit.
Then one day a traveling circus comes to town. Giovanni enjoyed it so much, that he asked the Maestro if he could become a part of the performance. The Maestro agreed that he could join them, but doesnât get paid, just a place to sleep and some food. Then, later, the Maestro gives him a costume and lets Giovanni perform for the crowd. Giovanni would juggle sticks, plates, clubs, rings, and burning torches. Then he would do his most famous act; with a red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and then a violent ball. When he got all the balls going at a good pace, he would throw “the Sun in the Heavens” ball that was gold. The crowds loved this act the best.
Over the years, Giovanni got very famous performing for dukes and princes. Then when he was a teenager, he ran into two Brothers. They asked him if he would share his food with them. Giovanni said yes to them. They told him that with his juggling, he was bringing God glory. Giovanni didn’t really think so, and laughed. Then he told the Brothers farewell and left.
Then, Giovanni got old and no one wanted to see him juggle anymore. They started to throw vegetables and stones at him, so he had to leave. He decided to go back home to Sorrento. Then Giovanni reached the church of the Brothers that he met years ago. The Church was filled with people who were carrying beautiful gifts. He asked someone what was going on and they said it was the Holy Child’s birthday.
He decides that he will juggle for the stern Child sitting in his mother’s arm, for that was the only gift he could give. He did this when everyone was gone. So, Giovanni does his usual acts; the clubs, the plates, and the flaming torches. Then he does his most famous act, “the Sun in the Heavens.” A brother sees him and goes to get a priest. When they get to Giovanni, they see him lying on the floor dead. Then the brother turns around and looks at the statue of the Lady holding her Holy Child. Read the book to see what happens.