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Children's LiteratureAGERANGE: Ages 8 to 12.
Part of National Geographic's "World History Biographies" series, this beautifully illustrated book gives a detailed yet straightforward account of Joan's life. From the beginning we see Joan as a kind, well-behaved girl born into a loving family during a difficult time--the Hundred Years' War between France and England. The author beautifully integrates into the narrative a variety of facts of the period, even if they are not specifically known about Joan, such as the types of chores girls would have had, the types of toys she may have played with, and what was expected of her, thus helping to bring her to life for the reader. She and her siblings most likely helped work on the family farm but Joan, pious at an early age, was known to sneak off and visit a shrine in a nearby town. It came as no great surprise, then, that she heard voices of saints telling her to lead an army against the English. Eventually securing the backing of the political leaders of the day, Joan did indeed lead troops into battle. Despite her victories in barbaric situations, she was captured and, because the English feared her strong image, was tried in a biased church court and burned at the stake before reaching twenty years of age. A time line running continuously along the bottom of the pages helps put the text and pictures into historical context. A comprehensive glossary and index make this a useful book for research. Reviewer: Kathryn Erskine