201. Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI

Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat by Jeanne Perego. Illustrated by Donata Dal Molin Casagrande. Introduction by Father Georg Ganswein. Translated by Andrew Matt

Pages: 37
Ages: 7+
Finished: Nov. 6, 2009
First Published: Mar. 2008 (English Edition) (2007, original Italian edition)
Genre: children, picture book, biography
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

MEEEOOOOW! I'm Chico, and who are you?

Reason for Reading: read aloud to my son for our religion class. Received through ILL.

Comments: This is a "big kid's" picture book with a large amount of text and would be suitable for up to age 12. The vocabulary is also quite high, possibly on account of the translation, which would make me not recommend it for younger than 7. The story is told by a pet cat that the Pope once had and while I found the 'talking cat' angle a little strange myself I could see that its purpose of bringing the story closer to a child's understanding, adding a narrator and an off-beat sense of humour worked very well. My 9yo son responded very well to Chico's voice. The biography covers Joseph Ratzinger's life from birth until the day he is elected Pope. More detail is covered in young Joseph's life while his later life of teacher, bishop and cardinal is quickly covered. Detail is once again added very well at the end describing the process of when and how a new Pope is elected. The illustrations are beautiful and compliment the book nicely, done mostly in cool colours in what appears to be watercolours. A good book for a brief look at the topic that gives just the right kind of information that will help children understand just who the Pope is. I also think that the book would be perfectly suitable for an audience of any religion as it is not written specifically to Catholics or even Christians. Recommended.

I'm also pleased to say that this book came through Inter-library loan. It took the longest of any book I've ever requested (6 weeks) and came from our nation's capital, Ottawa, but I'm glad to see a public library somewhere come up with a Catholic press title.

PS - I don't normally count picture books in my books read totals but this one is text-heavy so I've decided it should count.


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