Joan of Arc

Book review by
Whitney Stewart, Common Sense Media
Joan of Arc Book Poster Image
History unfolds like a rich and elegant folktale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Raises questions about gender equality and religious tolerance.


Battles are discussed but not graphically illustrated. Joan rushes headlong into battles. Joan's moods and emotions are vividly described.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the historical events unfold like a rich and elegant folktale. Many young readers may question the origin of the voices Joan heard that day.

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What's the story?

Poole's reliance on research helps give Joan of Arc's story historical ballast. Poole and Barrett never forget their picture book audience. They depict Joan's simple beginnings, spiritual awakening, military bravery, posthumous nomination, and election to sainthood in an age- appropriate style.


Is it any good?

Poole and Barrett have produced an impassioned and beautiful book, an unforgettable introduction to an important time in French history and to the life of a brave woman. Angela Barrett's exquisite paintings demonstrate the quiet mood of a spiritual girl and the pageantry and harshness of 15th-century France.

Children love a true story, especially if it is filled with adventure, high color, dramatic tension, and heroism. In the case of Josephine Poole's picture-book biography, the author's husband, Vincent Helyar, provided the research on which Poole bases her work. Poole uses just enough fact to establish an historical backbone without dragging down the story. However, she also provides dialogue without sources, and critical readers are left to admire the language but wonder how much dialogue Poole invented. Poole wants to tell a simple version of a complex political and religious tale. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Joan of Arc's extraordinary story. What makes her so compelling? How does she earn the respect of the men around her? Why do you think so few women have followed in her footsteps of military leadership? Do you think her story would be as captivating if she had been a boy?

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