Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. ~ Dr. Seuss

Pippo the Fool

line Pippo the Fool
by Tracey E. Fern (Author), Pau Estrada (Illustrator)

Fool or Genius?

The Cathedral in Santa Maria del Fiore in the city of Florence, Italy is a structure to be marveled at. Its architecture and engineering was a source of pride to the city dwellers. The only thing missing was a dome! The city fathers came up with a solution – a contest! Contestant who wins the prize would be awarded 200 gold florins of prize money, AND receive honor and instant fame!

Pippo the Fool Contest

Pippo Brunelleschi was a goldsmith. He made gold into fine jewelry. But his real talent (and passion) lay in designing and making peculiar machines. His inventions and structures were so outlandish, that he soon earned the nickname “Pippo the Fool”!

Pippo heard about the contest and decided to enter. After all, this was his golden chance to prove his worth and show people his true genius. But building the dome was no easy task! “What could support the enormous done without ruining the beauty of the cathedral? What could hold it up until the mortar dried? How can tons of marble be lifted out of the quarry and hoisted up so high?”

Indeed! this was a job for a genius! Pippo delighted at the challenge. He got down to task and spent weeks pouring over designs and drawings. He calculated exact dimensions for everything. He carved out stones that fit like jigsaw puzzles. He even mixed cement that could withstand earthquakes!Finally Pippo was ready.

On the day of presentation, Pippo saw many famous and brilliant architects come from all over Europe. But none of their designs worked. When it was Pippo’s turn, the judges were aghast! They simply couldn’t believe that his plans could work. They just tossed him out.

But Pippo didn’t loose heart! He decided to build a model. A model that would prove that his plans DID work! When he was finished he invited the judges to inspect it. Will they find flaws again? Or would the judges award the project to “Pippo the Fool”?

Pippo the Fool Model

This is a TRUE story of Pippo Brunelleschi’s Dome. An architectural Masterpiece. Tracey Fern weaves a tale that highlights the difficulties, challenges and obstacles that Pippo faced. Masterfully, Fern takes you through the process of the actual building, of how Pippo cleverly solves each of his problems through design and planning. Fern also runs a parallel story of ego and pride when Pippo is asked to work alongside his arch nemesis Lorenzo. The story tells about Pippo’s big-hearted nature and how he overcomes his pride and builds the dome for the simple joy of building it.

Pippo the Fool Working

Pau Estrada’s detailed and colorful illustrations draws you in. We marveled at the mini model of the dome. Estrada’s drawings of the construction of the real dome made us stop and look. An Author’s note at the back shows the REAL dome from the late 20th century. All the kids at story time wanted to take a up-close look and check to see how true it was to the art work inside.

Such a wonderful story.. not to be missed!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books



  1. This book looks awesome, a great book to read during National Non-Fiction month.


  2. This sounds like a lovely book! And my daughter, who loves all things historical, would love to read it too! Thanks for the review

  3. This book looks fantastic! I love the pictures and the history, and the life lesson. Thanks for sharing this gem.

  4. Hi Reshamad. My grandson is really into construction right now. He just might enjoy this especially since the pictures are so detailed. Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop and for hosting!

    • reshamad

      Cheryl, I am sure he will love it! The art is such a right fit for this book

  5. stanleyandkatrina

    What a fab book for a budding engineer (Neighbor Girl is one of those at the moment!). Thank you for sharing yet another wonderful book on the #KidLitBlogHop, and for hosting. Have a super week ahead!
    ~Cool Mom for “The Gang”

  6. Absolutely fabulous! That is so typical of this time period where people who thought outside the books were considered fools. Well, he showed them! Thanks for sharing your recommendation in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Pinning!


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