A serviceable biography that will serve the student who chooses Pope Francis as a subject well.

POPE FRANCIS

THE PEOPLE'S POPE

Pope Francis’ life story.

Pope Francis is the first non-European, Jesuit man to be ordained as leader of the Roman Catholic Church. This biography takes middle-grade readers on Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s spiritual and physical journey toward the papacy. Gormley charts Bergoglio’s spiritual development well, beginning with his grandmother, who sparked in him the importance of faith at a young age, and moving from there as political turbulence roiled Argentina. The author provides plenty of context for Argentina’s political and social discord but never loses focus on her subject. While Argentina’s story is important to Bergoglio’s history, it never overwhelms the man. Pope Francis’ reputation as the “People’s Pope,” a man honest about his background, interests, and past, helps the author paint a picture of her subject as a well-rounded, well-intentioned man. There are no grave missteps or shady secrets to reveal here, just a man who always did what he thought was best for the people around him and used his faith as his guide. It is a bit long-winded. The 257 pages of main narrative really hold only about 175 pages of essential story. The “and then this happened” structure of standard biographies is certainly felt, and while that works well for an educational text for children using this for a school project, those looking for a ripping yarn about the pope may want to keep looking.

A serviceable biography that will serve the student who chooses Pope Francis as a subject well. (timeline, sources, photos) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8141-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A standout among writing guides, valuable for its sage and friendly encouragement and for the sheer fun of hanging out with...

WRITING RADAR

USING YOUR JOURNAL TO SNOOP OUT AND CRAFT GREAT STORIES

Advice on writing from one of the best writers around.

“I’m a writer and I’m on your side,” Gantos says, as if he’s putting an arm around a young writer’s shoulder and guiding them through a door to a new life. With a snappy voice, his own funny ink drawings, and expertise drawn from a career full of great books, he covers just about everything: where to find ideas and characters, how to structure a story, why to keep a journal, and even what to write with. Every step of the way he includes examples from his own writing. As humorous as he is, Gantos is authoritative and serious about his craft, careful to include every building block for constructing a good story—characters, setting, problem, action, crisis, resolution, and the need for a double ending (physical and emotional). Chapter 2 (“Getting Started”) ought to be read by all teachers and parents: it’s a manifesto on how to raise a reader (and writer) by reading aloud excellent picture books to young children and placing good books in the hands of children as they get older, and he offers a handy list of just what some of those books should be. While his list of picture books is not a particularly diverse one, the middle-grade titles suggested are nicely inclusive.

A standout among writing guides, valuable for its sage and friendly encouragement and for the sheer fun of hanging out with Jack. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30456-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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