Book Review by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU Bookstores
this review was published in the St. Cloud Visitor.
Blessed John Paul II: Be Not Afraid by Susan Helen Wallace, FSP, Pauline Books, 2011, 111 pp., $7.95
Sr. Susan Helen Wallace, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Peace, has written a number of biographies for the "Encounter the Saints" series, books for ages 9-12 that portray the lives of various saints. Her newest book in the series tells the story of Pope John Paul II, from his birth to his beatification, scheduled for May 1, 2011. Young readers will find the story of Pope John Paul II interesting and inspiring; adult readers may enjoy the simplified story as well. Pronunciation guides for some of the challenging Polish names and cities are included in the book, along with a prayer to Blessed John Paul and a glossary to explain some of the more challenging words in the book. A few black and white illustrations are scattered throughout this nice little book.
Pope John Paul II: In My Own Words, Memorial Edition 1920-2005, compiled and edited by Anthony F. Chiffolo, Liguori Publications, 2005, 116 pp., $9.95
This collection of quotations and prayers by Pope John Paul II was compiled by Anthony Chiffolo as a memorial to the beloved pope, following his death in 2005. The book begins with a brief introduction summarizing Pope John Paul II's life. The quotations and prayers are arranged in fourteen chapters, each on a different subject, including prayer, the sanctity of life, marriage and the family, progress and the modern world, and the sacraments. Chiffolo uses selections from the Holy Father's speeches, encyclicals, homilies, and public addresses in putting together this compilation. Many of the passages, often from Pope John Paul II's public speeches, reveal a compassionate and spiritual leader. Other quotations exhibit his wisdom and deep theological acumen.
Stories of Karol: The Unknown Life of John Paul II by Gian Franco Svidercoschi, Liguori Publications, 2007, 150 pp, $14.99
Stories of Karol: The Unknown Life of John Paul II started out as a 20-part radio program in Italy, narrated by the author, Gian Franco Svidercoschi, a journalist and Vatican observer who is of Polish descent. This biography of Karol Wojtyla begins with his birth and ends with his election to the papal throne. The last chapter of the book "A Slavic Pope is Coming" briefly touches on the papal election of 1978, but this book is mostly about Wojtyla's youth, told with a definite Polish viewpoint. Some readers may not like all the Polish history that is included in the book, but the author states in the preface that there is no way to understand the figure of Pope John Paul II "unless one goes back to his origins, to the roots of his vocation, and to the different experiences and situations through which he lived." Ten pages of interesting black and white photographs are included in Stories of Karol, which was the inspiration behind the Hallmark Channel movie A Man Who Became Pope
John Paul II--The Story of My Life: Collected Memories, compiled by Saverio Gaeta, Pauline Books, 2011, 266 pp, $18.95
During his almost twenty-seven years as the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II pronounced or wrote approximately 15,000 discourses and documents for a variety of occasions. John Paul II-The Story of My Life is a collection of a number of these communications, along with writings and conversations he had with loved ones and companions. Saverio Gaeta, a native of Naples, and a journalist and author of many titles, arranged this book into three sections: Karol Wojtyla's youth and upbringing through his years as a Cardinal; his election as the 263rd successor of St. Peter and his mission as the new pope; and, the most substantial section, a year-by-year chronology of the twenty-seven years of his papacy. Gaeta offers a brief note to explain the circumstances of each of the Pope's writings, which help the reader grasp the meaning and context of the pontiff's words. This chronicle of the steadfast faith of one of the Church's most-loved spiritual leaders is a worthy read.
Why He Is a Saint: The Life and Faith of Pope John Paul II and the Case for Canonization, by Slawomir Oder with Saverio Gaeta, Rizzoli International Publications, 2010, 190 pp, $22.50
A best-seller in Italy, Why He Is a Saint became available in the English language last fall. Author Slawomir Oder, one of the first Polish priests to be ordained after the collapse of Communism in 1989, was postulator in the cause for beatification of Pope John Paul II. Why He is a Saint is a narrative of the pontiff's life and faith, plus Oder's account of the work he did during the beatification process. The book has three main chapters: "The Man", "The Pope," and "The Mystic," and uses anecdotes, along with both public and unpublished correspondence to tell of the pope's life. The authors consider Pope John Paul II's life, actions, and deep faith and argue that he would indeed be a worthy saint.