What’s Pope Francis really like? You’ve heard bits and pieces in news stories about him paying his own hotel bill, riding the bus around Buenos Aires and forgoing a plush Papal apartment in favor of a life in community. Italian journalist Rosario Carello has put together eighty vignettes from the life of Pope Francis in a book that will help readers get to know the Pope in his new book, Pope Francis Takes the Bus.
The title of this book might make you think it was written for children. (Or maybe I’ve spent too much time reading Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! with the first-graders.) This impression is carried even further when you see that the table of contents is arranged alphabetically, like an ABC picture book: “F is for…Francis.” While the stories themselves can be easily understood by children, the vocabulary used in this book will challenge readers below the middle-school level. If your children are younger, consider reading it yourself and simplifying the word choice as you share the stories with your children. The stories are wonderful, and many of them involve children, so your younger family members will certainly enjoy hearing them.
This book centers on the Pope’s humility as his distinguishing trait. The anecdotes in the book are all designed to demonstrate that the Pope deliberately chooses to live that virtue.
I do think that there is a danger, in writing a biography of a Church figure, to canonize a person while he is still alive. Carello walks that fine line in this book, and that’s understandable, because he’s not out to make the Pope look bad.
If you’d like to learn about Pope Francis’ life through stories about more than just his papacy, this book is for you.
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