The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane. 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.
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane
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’s room and assigned to make the ink that the brothers used. With his natural curiosity, Theophane discovered that inks could be made from other plants besides the wood bark. Berries and leaves produced other beautiful colors. And soon, the books the monks made were illuminated with colors and drawings.
C.M. Millen’s charming story of a young monk who defied the discipline of the monastery and found his own way to express the beauty of the world will inspire young readers to explore their own world and find their own voices.
Andrea Wisnewski’s illustrations, inspired by the illuminated letters that the medieval monks created in books like the Book of Kells, bring to life the colors and beauty that surrounded Brother Theophane amidst the plain world of the monastery.
Winner of the 2011 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.
About the Author:
Cynthia Millen is the author of the short story, “Children of Niobe,” the 4th place winner of the 2013 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Literature, and published in the collection “What World Is This?” (Tuscany Press, 2014). She is perhaps best known for her four children’s books, written under her pen name, C. M. Millen. Her most recent, The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane (Charlesbridge, 2010) was awarded the Lee Bennett Hopkins National Children’s Poetry Award in 2011. Learn more about her here.
A Few Reviews:
“In a small medieval Irish monastery, the monks quietly work side by side, copying and illuminating manuscripts in brown ink. Theophane, the youngest monk, is so easily distracted by the beauty of the world outside his window that he is given an outdoor task: boiling bark to make ink. Inspired by stains from blackberries, he begins to experiment, making colored inks from berries, leaves, roots, and twigs. Soon the monks are illuminating their manuscripts with the brilliant hues of nature. Words and pictures alike are infused with a sense of the monks’ joy in their faith and work as well as Theophane’s delight in the natural world. Written in rhythmic, rhyming, and near-rhyming verse, the simple story unfolds in a satisfying way, accompanied by short poems inspired by the writings of medieval Irish monks. The richly detailed illustrations were created by using a paper-cut design to print bold, black lines and brightening the pictures with watercolors. The book concludes with lists of recommended books and Internet sites as well as an author’s note related to her research on medieval monasteries.” –Booklist Carolyn Phelan