Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Josephine Poole
Illustrator:  Angela Barrett 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 9 to 12
Random House, 1998   ISBN: 0679890416

Joan is a simple country girl. A farmer's daughter who loves nature, helps her mother in the house and works with her brothers in the fields like so many other 15th century children. Then one day, in the garden, "when the air around her turns very clear and bright—much brighter than the sun could make it," Joan hears the voices for the first time...and for four years afterwards she listens to their wise counsel.

A young thirteen-year-old girl seems the last person we might expect to change the course of French history, but that's exactly what happens. Joan isn't frightened though, “as she listened, she was full of happiness...she had never felt so happy...when the voices stopped she cried because they had gone away.” The heavenly voices want the good French king to keep his kingdom, and they want Joan to help him to achieve this goal. Soon, Joan dressed like a man, is leading the King's army to holy glory in Orleans, just as the voices have decreed. Townspeople worship Joan now and cry aloud that, “God is sending a maiden with miraculous powers…” Joan marches on, commanding her army, “Its all yours, Go! Go!” he cries.

A work of art as well as an educational tool, this story about Joan of Arc would make a magnificent addition to any book collection, combining fairytale magic with meticulously researched facts that children will want to hear again and again.