Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"This is a true story. It happened over 500 years ago, in France." So begins this romantic biography of Saint Joan, the 15th-century farmer's daughter who heard voices from heaven directing her to lead the French in battle during the Hundred Years' War. The opening lines, combined with a chronology at the back of the book, establish the agenda as historical -- but the tone and much of the content reflect a religious sensibility. Poole treats the heavenly voices and Joan's visions as absolute fact: "During that dreadful time," she writes of Joan's imprisonment before her trial for heresy, "St. Michael and his angels visited her, to comfort her. The Archangel was so beautiful, so kind." After Joan is burned at the stake, Poole concludes without further elaboration: "But that was not the end. A saint is like a star. A star and a saint shine forever." More effective in portraying the simple, massive courage of Joan's endeavors are Barrett's detailed, epic-scale illustrations. Aflame with premonitory fires and flooded with the emotion of battle, they sear the imagination with their horror and beauty.
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
When Joan of Arc by Josephine Poole, illus. by Angela Barrett, was published in 1981, PW said, "The opening lines, combined with a chronology at the back of the book, establish the agenda as historical-but the tone and much of the content reflect a religious sensibility. Barrett's detailed, epic-scale illustrations effectively portray the simple, massive courage of Joan's endeavors." Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Over 500 years ago, when France was being taken over by England, a thirteen-year-old maiden named Joan began to hear heavenly voices. At first she told no one. But when the city of Orleans was under siege, Joan felt called to free the city and take the King of France to Rheims to be crowned. When she went to the Captain of a garrison for help, she was laughed at. But when news of her spread, she was finally taken to the King. To test her, the King posed as a nobleman, but Joan was not fooled. Her bravery led the army to free Orleans and brought the King to be crowned. Then instead of going home she continued to lead the army and was captured. She was treacherously turned over to the English, tried, and burned at the stake. But a "saint is like a star and shines forever." The research was done by Vincent Helyar. A chronology of her life from birth to canonization is at the back. A map decorates the end papers. The beautiful illustrations are reminiscent of the Pre-Raphaelites. They convey the excitement of battle, the pomp of court, and the spiritual quality of the story. 1998, Alfred A. Knopf/Random House Children's Books, Ages 8 to 12.
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
Joan, a French peasant girl of the village of Arc, was only 13 when she first heard miraculous voices and saw an unearthly, bright light. This well-researched, historical picture book, with its realistic color pencil illustrations and stirring text, shows us what happens several years later when Joan's beloved voices urge her to drive the English out of France and have the French King crowned at Rheims. Joan's goodness and courage, as she challenges limitations of her gender and social class to do what she believes is right, is an appealing, inspirational aspect of this attractive book.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-"This is a true story," begins this picture book about the famous saint who heard "voices from Heaven" and inspired her country to defeat the enemies of France. Research is credited on the title page, but no sources or bibliography are given, and only the chronology and maps on the endpapers attest to the historical facts behind the well-known tale. Barrett's full-page and double-spread paintings are splendid compositions that show the influence of medieval tapestries and Flemish paintings. Details of costume, the maiden's banner, and the dashing battle charges in the soft-hued, dramatic illustrations echo the classic 1896 picture book (Viking, 1980) by Maurice Boutet de Monvel but in a more realistic, modern style. The narrative simplifies and shortens the story as told by Boutet de Monvel and also by Aileen Fisher (Crowell, 1970; both o.p.) while retaining the traditional elements of guiding voices and comforting angels. Poole's book ends with Joan's death by fire, but with a final word that it was really "...not the end...A star and a saint shine forever."-Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Although the subject, a popular and compelling one, is the same, as are the essential details of Joan's life-her vision-inspired dedication to the defense of France in the Hundred Years' War, her military genius, her betrayal and martyrdom-the effect of these two biographies is quite different. Josephine Poole's treatment, echoed in Angela Barrett's illustrations, is deeply spiritual, evanescent, a haunting impression of an era, a place, and an enigmatic human being, anchored in time by an adjoined chronology. In contrast, Diane Stanley's portrait, equally arresting in its visual beauty, emphasizes the historical Joan, an impression reinforced by a concise, thoughtful introduction to the political and social nuances of the Hundred Years' War, a pronunciation guide to the French names and phrases used in the text, an appended description of events transpiring after Joan's martyrdom, and a selective bibliography. Both include a map of the setting: that by Poole and Barrett offers a stylized, simplified version incorporated into the endpapers; Stanley, in keeping with the overall tone of her book, presents a more traditional-and complex-overview, delineating geographic features such as mountains and seas in a manner reminiscent of medieval maps, complete with a sea monster to mark uncharted waters. The Poole text reads like a story, a recounting of an extraordinary event, repeated to a young audience to ensure that Joan's memory would remain alive, an impression reinforced by the concluding sentences: "A saint is like a star. A star and a saint shine forever." Certainly, no one could argue with these sentiments, particularly when accompanied by dramatic, full-color illustrations that unfold like a gorgeous pageant. Although an equally beautiful presentation, incorporating elements of medieval illumination and allusions to the somewhat flat style of Boutet de Monvel's illustrations from the late nineteenth century, Diane Stanley's text is more grounded in its sources and consequently more expansive in its interpretation. Her final paragraph, rather than echoing popular sentiment, examines the various approaches to understanding what seems beyond understanding and concludes, "Sometimes in studying history, we have to accept what we know and let the rest remain a mystery." Perhaps the fact that the story of the Maid of Orleans still inspires illustrators to produce such exemplary works, just as it did Boutet de Monvel, is in itself a publishing miracle. Although suited to different audiences and differing in presentation, both books are notable, memorable, and compelling.
Stately picture-book pages chronicle the life of the maid of Orleans in measured language that mutes only some of the intensity of the story. It's the stuff of history and legend: how Joan heard heavenly voices in 15th-century France, risked her honor to convince soldiers to take her to the beleaguered and uncrowned king, led armies in battle, and, though wounded, saw the king crowned at Rheims. In liturgical cadences, Poole recounts how Joan was betrayed by the king, tried and burned at the stake as a witch, and eventually declared a saint. The pictures, somewhat reminiscent of the classic Boutet De Monvel illustrations, make exquisite reference to millefleur tapestries, Dutch genre painting, and illuminated manuscripts. Because the treatment is of a saint rather than a hero, both text and images have a certain still quality, all the better to pore over. This is a good introduction to Joan: 'A saint is like a star. A star and a saint shine forever.'