All artwork © 2014 Fabiola Garza
Every time I read A Boy Who Became Pope, written and illustrated by Fabiola Garza, I get choked up. As in, blinking away tears choked up. I know it has much to do with the subject matter- the amazing life of a little boy once known as “Lolek.” His life was more than touched by loss and grief; much more than I could imagine in my own life. But just as greatly, it was blessed by deep faith, courage, fortitude and the grand movements of God.
The ebbs and flows of the highs and lows in Lolek’s life are gracefully highlighted by Fabiola. From the good and beautiful to the tragic and scary, she gently handles subjects in a way that would resound with many children, without being overwhelming. And the subtle theme of love of God is repeated throughout the book in the often asked question, “Who do you love most?” Answering this question and imploring others to also respond, becomes the life quest of Lolek, later known as Karol, and even later known as Pope John Paul II.
Sometimes I still hear in my head the name of “John Paul II” in the Eucharistic Prayers of the Mass, even though it’s been 16 years since his passing! He was the pope of my youth and my young, young adulthood. And the more I learn about his life, the more I am amazed. When A Boy Who Became Pope came on to my radar last year, I knew that we needed it in our library, so on to my son’s Christmas list it went! He still is a bit young for it, but I know I will be reading it to him soon enough. And choking up again!
There is a reason that Fabiola’s illustrations look like they are stills from a high-end animated movie. She is an illustrator for Disney! So of course, the art in this book is top-notch (a category to which I aspire). The art appears to be a cross of digital and watercolor. The colors are lovely and warm, and the figures are often bathed in a soft glow of light. Their faces are full of expression (unless those figures are Communist soldiers), and it is great fun to see the character progression of little Lolek growing up to become Pope John Paul II. The layouts and varying perspectives shown in Fabiolia’s illustrations are also scenic and beautiful. The whole look of the book is incredibly cohesive. I hope Fabiola has more stories to tell and illustrate in the future!
If you and your family would like to learn more about the astounding life of Pope St. John Paul II, from youth to his papal election, this book is the perfect introduction! Grab a copy today.
Author/Illustrator: Fabiola Garza
Publisher: Pauline Books and Media
Suggested Age Range: 6-9 years