St. Francis of Assisi, a thirteenth-century Catholic monk, held animals in such high regard that he addressed them as brothers and sisters. Today many people are trying to kindle that kind of connection with animals. But sadly enough, there are those who continue to discriminate against certain animals that are stereotyped as bad rather than good. This children's book by Ethel Pochocki seeks to remedy this problem which can be seen as the equivalent of racism in the animal kingdom.
The setting for this story is a soup kitchen where Francesca, a cockroach, and Martin, a skunk, hear about a celebration that is going to be held in the Cathedral where animals will be blessed. She is excited about the event but he is skeptical: "It's for the respectables, the cute and cuddlies . . . We are outcasts, my dear. They'll never let us in." But Francesca convinces him to go and so they travel across town and arrive in the Cathedral.
The two of them are astonished to see a wide variety of animals in the procession led by cats and dogs. At the end of the line, a kind elephant wants them to join the party and so he takes them on his trunk to the altar. The last turn out to be the first in the Cathedral and the friar acknowledges before the congregation that Brother Skunk and Sister Cockroach have their proper place in this blessing service. The illustrations by Barry Moser are gloriously wonderful-bringing out our delight in these two outcasts who are properly honored as being royal heirs in God's kingdom.