We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
Demi is such a remarkable and prolific artist that it is difficult to keep track of her many published works. Our current reading theme on biographies is perfect for the theme of most of her works which usually feature the life story narratives of eminent individuals coming from different parts of the world. This one comes from France.
Written and Illustrated by Demi
Published by Two Lions (2011)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
I remember learning about Joan of Arc when I was in high school. I went to an all-girls private school run by nuns (the Augustinian Recollect sisters), and it was par for the course for us to learn about the lives of saints. And Joan of Arc ranked very highly among the saints, mainly because she was female and was a soldier at that.
In this picturebook biography (PBB), I get to know more about Joan’s beginnings, when she was born in 1412 in France, a fairly simple girl who lived in a farm with her parents, three brothers and one sister. She lived an unassuming but meaningful life – one that took care of the downtrodden, weak, infirm.
Joan also lived during a time of unrest and turmoil, with huge countries attempting to vanquish and conquer smaller and lesser-protected cities. Hence, Joan knew about the English and Burgundians killing off her countrymen in France. When Joan turned 13, she had a vision that told her exactly what she must do to deliver her country from invaders, and to ensure that the heir to the throne be crowned the rightful King.
Reading this book reminded me of just how starkly different her reality was from ours with the hearing of voices, the ardent and unswerving faith and belief, and the willingness to act on God’s plan as manifested through visions.
While most readers may be familiar about the tragic ending to this narrative, what struck me the most was Joan’s courage that emboldened the men under her command to defend their country, and her strong faith that she is living her life as God wills it. This level of surrender is very rarely seen in contemporary times when interpersonal relationships are viewed more as transactions and negotiations. Such a leap of faith seems foreign now to most readers, young and old alike. This is the reason why the first quote used by Demi served to really bring home the very essence of Joan’s existence:
“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.”
Joan of Arc
Teachers would also be happy to note that the Author’s Foreword found at the beginning of the story listed the resources Demi used to make the narrative come alive for the reader, as well as the artistic style she employed to illuminate Joan of Arc’s story.
#LitWorld2018GB Update: France