From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Gathered from more than 250 submissions, 30 letters from children to Pope Francis are answered in a picture book that feels akin to sitting in on a series of intimate conversations. The letters, hand-written and illustrated, are reproduced on left-hand pages, along with English translations and photos of each child; the pope's answers appear opposite. The questions can be theologically intense ("If God loves us so much... why didn't he defeat the devil?"), deeply personal (Ivan, a 13-year-old from China, asks whether his non-Catholic grandfather will go to heaven), or casual and blunt ("You are not very young anymore," begins one from Dutch twins Hannes and Lidewij). The answers are rarely simple, but the pope writes respectfully and honestly, often invoking larger spiritual and social concepts (questions about soccer and dancing get answers involving teamwork and joy). The injustices of the present are often represented, as well: "In today's world there is so much suffering. And, unfortunately, you know that firsthand," Francis writes to a Syrian boy, Mohammed. It's a uniquely candid project that reveals the curiosities, dreams, and insecurities of contemporary children and offers comfort and advice from a Catholic perspective. Ages 6up. (Mar.)
From KIRKUS REVIEWS
The People's Pope shows that he is a down-to-earth man who understands both religion and children. Left-hand pages show 30 actual letters and hand-drawn pictures from children in Jesuit institutions around the world, culled from 259 submitted, along with snapshots of the children, their names, ages, and countries, and the typed English texts of their letters. Right-hand pages, on paper meant to look like Vatican stationery, bear the pope's answers, given in an interview with editor Father Antonio Spadaro, many talking about the pictures the children have drawn. The questions ("these are tough...!") are all over the map in terms of both theology and intimacy. An 8-year-old girl from Kenya wants to know how Jesus walked on water, a 10-year-old girl from the Philippines wants to know why parents argue, and Prajla, 6, from Albania wants to know if Francis enjoyed dancing in his youth. Answering in terms children can understand, Pope Francis addresses both their questions and the fears and hopes that lie beneath them. While these questions were likely chosen to present the pope's vision and stances on many matters of Roman Catholic faithdealing with the poor, the afterlife, prayer, evangelization, mercy (oddly, none address the environment) that doesn't mean that his answers to these youngest of his flock are anything other than important or relevant. As Spadaro writes, Pope Francis understands that "One must not complicate God, especially if this complication distances God from the people." People's Pope indeed. (Religion. 4-12)
"Francis is not just answering these questions, he is paying attention to who is asking them, and finding a way to make them feel seen."
Maria Russo, New York Times
"A uniquely candid project that reveals the curiosities, dreams, and insecurities of contemporary children and offers comfort and advice from a Catholic perspective."
"This is an amazing book."
Lauren Green, FoxNews.com
"Pope Francis is delightfully present in his answers to the collection of letters written him by children across the world."
"Dear Pope Francis offers a quiet profundity that even non-believers can get into."
"Many of the common themes in the children's letters will show your own kids that we have things in common with people all over the globe."
"Dear Pope Francis is a beautiful collection of questions that the world, no matter what age, shares. Its a book that brings the world together and focuses on faith. There is no book like this collection."
"Hidden in this deceptively simple book is a great deal of profound theology, explained simply and directly."
James Martin, S.J.
"This is one of the most child-focused, endearing, loving mediums by which a Holy Father has connected with children around the world."
Sandy OShaughnessy, DRE