by Barbara DiLorenzo
Based on true events, Barbara DiLorenzo’s luminous picture book Renato and the Lion was inspired by the protection of Italian works of art during World War II, told through the lens of a young boy finding friendship and inspiration amidst the specter of war.
Renato is a young boy living in Florence who loves sketching his favorite lion statue in Piazza della Signoria despite his grumbling belly and the rumble of war planes in the distance. Though there are many noble statues throughout the city, this one is his.
When other boys start to tease Renato, the lion takes pity and comes to life—they roam Florence and discover its beautiful alleyways and monuments, becoming friends.
As the threat of war encroaches, the people of Florence begin bricking over the city’s sculptures, encasing them in little brick domes to protect them from the destruction of bombs. Renato’s lion must too be protected, and the two friends are separated when Renato flees Italy with his family. They are only reunited many years later, when peace returns to Florence.
Featuring elegant, Impressionist watercolor illustrations, Renato and the Lion is a powerful story of the importance of art, friendship, and memory set against a haunting period of world history.
North American publisher: Viking Children’s Books, June 2017
Foreign rights contact: Tracy Gates, Viking Children’s Books
Film/TV rights contact: Allison Devereux, Wolf Literary Services