Beginning with the emigration of Jorge’s grandparents from Italy to Argentina, this biography traces Bergoglio’s life, concluding with his attendance at World Youth Day in July 2013, as Pope Francis.
This is a much more personal biography (meant for a slightly younger audience) than Pope Francis by Stephanie Watson (2013). Only briefly mentioning Argentina’s “Dirty War” and entirely leaving out the scandals of the Catholic Church and the more publicized examples of Bergoglio’s humility, Monge and Wolfe focus instead on the experiences that shaped Bergoglio’s faith and led him to the priesthood. The text’s lack of a bibliography may lead readers (or their parents) to wonder how the more intimate details of Bergoglio’s life were uncovered, especially with regard to the rather stilted and unnatural-sounding dialogue and internal monologues. Simple, short sentences make this accessible for young readers, though more contextual definitions (or a glossary) would have been helpful, especially for those unfamiliar with the Catholic faith. Also, commas that could help young readers with comprehension are frequently missing, and there are some awkward sentence constructions: “There was always studying or homework to do for school, or help needed around the house.” Kizlauskas’ illustrations are quite realistic looking (if stiff), though they do not always appear on the same spread as the text that accompanies them.
Though this has more of a religious bent than most biographies, children should gain an understanding of the new pope as a person. (Biography. 7-10)