Joan of Arc: Heroine of France

Overview

She was a peasant, who was born in a village in France. She was a soldier, who commanded an army. In time, she was pronounced a saint. Joan of Arc's life seems like a fable. Her death reads like tragedy. However, history records that she took command of French forces and drove the English from the city of Orleans. Drawing on the letters and testimony presented at Joan's trial, Ann Tompert presents a simply told narrative of a remarkable life. Joined with Michael Garland's dramatic illustrations that capture ...

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Overview

She was a peasant, who was born in a village in France. She was a soldier, who commanded an army. In time, she was pronounced a saint. Joan of Arc's life seems like a fable. Her death reads like tragedy. However, history records that she took command of French forces and drove the English from the city of Orleans. Drawing on the letters and testimony presented at Joan's trial, Ann Tompert presents a simply told narrative of a remarkable life. Joined with Michael Garland's dramatic illustrations that capture Joans' fifteenth-century world, here is the story of one of the most fascinating--and mysteriou--figures in history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tompert and Garland (previously partnered for Saint Nicholas and Saint Patrick) aim high in attempting to introduce children as young as kindergartners to one of European history's most perplexing heroines; unfortunately, they miss their mark. Reporting the known facts about Joan of Arc, Tompert takes a historical view (rather than, for example, the spiritual approach of Josephine Poole and Angela Barrett's Joan of Arc). She quotes Joan liberally, matter-of-factly sprinkling adaptations of Joan's words throughout the text as if sharing the responses from an interview. However, she supplies only the barest political context, and the target audience may have trouble understanding why France and England are at war, much less why the Burgundians side with the English. The author sidesteps the mystery of Joan's voices by citing and paraphrasing Joan without analysis or comment (" `I was in my father's garden. There appeared a great light around me.' In the light she saw a vision of Michael the Archangel, who told her to go to the aid of the King of France"). Garland's digital illustrations blend mostly flat, postmodern perspectives with photo-collage elements and a spectrum of styles, from painterly to folk-like to the almost puckish characterizations of his Christmas City or Mystery Mansion. Despite their references to period architecture, they suggest a fantasy realm that drains the account of its historical and tragic human dimensions. For a picture book that does justice to the complexities of Joan's story, see Diane Stanley's Joan of Arc. Ages 5-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
The true story of this heroine of French history has a legendary quality. Tompert tells it simply but with the drama that surrounds it, including the actual words of Joan's testimony in her witchcraft trial. She leads the troops of France, inspired by the visions and voices she believes come from the King of Heaven. After the Battle of Orleans, the victorious French crown the Dauphin king. But later the army suffers defeats. Joan is captured, tried, condemned, and burned at the stake. Some years later, a new trial finds her wrongly convicted. Garland's illustrations have an appropriate mythic quality produced by setting sculpturesque figures into more generalized scenes, at times giving the impression of toy soldiers on a game board. Joan is depicted as an innocent, skinny, apple-cheeked teen-ager with cropped hair. The text is set in ornately carved frames, adding a sense of once-upon-a-time. The blood and gore of battle of what was surely a brutal war is avoided; even when Joan is shot by an arrow there is no blood. Spirituality is emphasized. Compare this version in both text and visuals to some of the other stories of Joan, such as Diane Stanley's (Morrow, 1998) Josephine Poole's illustrated by Barrett (Knopf, 1998) and Margaret Hodges's The Lily Maid illustrated by Rayevsky (Holiday House, 1999.) The Author's Note includes considerable additional information, including her sources. 2003, Boyds Mills Press,
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Only a true fabulist could have come up with the life lived by Joan of Arc, an obscure peasant girl from a farming family who took the fate of two European countries into her hands and changed the course of history. Born in 1412 in the sleepy village of Domremy, she lived her early years in the same manner as most young girls of her time and social class. However, the summer of her 13th year, an angel appeared to her, telling her to go to the aid of the King of France, who was embattled by the invading British. Never doubting her visions and the voices that impelled her forward, Joan lifted the siege of Orleans, saw her liege lord crowned, and was later captured by the British and burned at the stake. This well-told history, set out in picture-book format, makes superb use of Joan's own words to present her life, times, and mission. Factually accurate and involvingly written, the text is set off on bordered pages facing full-page color illustrations. The art, which looks a bit like stills frozen from an animated cartoon, is bright and detailed, but seems at odds with both the tone of the text and the age range at which the narrative is pitched. Regardless, this is an informed, sympathetic, and accurate treatment of an interesting and controversial life that is textually the equal of either Diane Stanley's Joan of Arc (Morrow, 1998) or Margaret Hodges's Joan of Arc: The Lily Maid (Holiday, 1999).-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tompert (Pied Piper of Peru, 2002, etc.) draws on early sources for this simply phrased retelling of the familiar legend, quoting Joan directly and letting contemporaries do the moralizing: "Even the King of England's secretary wept. 'We are all lost,' he cried. 'We have burnt a good and holy person.' " The author rounds off her tale with an account of how King Charles, "filled with Joan's winning spirit," drove the English from most of France, and of Joan's subsequent canonization. Garland (Best Place to Read, Jan. 2003, etc.), however, sanitizes the Maid of Orleans's brief career, portraying her as a creamy-skinned, spotlessly clean figure who never displays more than minor discomfort, even when pulling an arrow (bloodlessly) from her own shoulder, or standing with palms together as flames and smoke rise around her. Next to Josephine Poole's searching version, with its powerful illustrations by Angela Barrett (2000), or Diane Stanley's richly detailed rendition (1999), this comes across as a bland, superficial portrait of one of history's most surprising movers and shakers. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590780091
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 760,187
  • Age range: 6 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Tompert is the author of many books for children, including Saint Patrick, a 1998 Booklist Top 10 Religious Books for Youth. She lives in Port Huron, Michigan.

Michael Garland is the illustrator of the critically acclaimed Leah's Pony, by Elizabeth Friedrich. He lives in Patterson, New York.

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