Mika has a good eye for interesting titles to add to our library collection. This book is one of his nicer finds: A pope laughs: stories of John XXIII / collected by Kurt Klinger. Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1963. Pope John XXIII was on of the most influential figures in the history of the 20th century. Vatican II is his legacy, the Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church that reconciled the Church with modernity. For those interested in the study of religion and the history of the Roman Catholic Church, this book provides a biographical account of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the man who became Pope John XXIII, from a down to earth perspective. The book is a collection of anecdotes that gives the reader a view of the personality of Pope John XXIII. He was a humble man with a subtle sense of humour as the following selection from the book demonstrates:
The tiresome process of being fitted into the ill-cut papal robes was over. John XXIII climbed for the first time into the Sedia Gestatoria to show himself to the faithful in his dignity as new Supreme Pontiff. “Who knows,” he whispered to his secretary, who had accompanied him to the balcony of St. Peter’s, as they looked at the surging crowd, “if all those people like me? After all, they didn’t elect me.”
This book was the first item I ever bought on eBay, a copy of the novel, Follow my Leader, written by James B. Garfield and first published in 1957. I first read a paperback edition in reprint of the novel as a boy when I was in grade school. It is a very well written novel for younger readers. It tells the story of a boy named Jimmy Carter who loses his sight in a playground accident. It is a rather inspiring story of how he learns to cope with his blindness; is given a guide dog he calls Leader; and comes to reconcile with the boy who caused the accident.
I studied children’s librarianship and children’s literature when I was in library school. I worked for a time as the children’s librarian at the Smiths Falls Public Library early in my career as a librarian many years ago. I was hired to stand in for the full-time children’s librarian while she was away on maternity leave. I still have an interest in literature for children and young adults and this particular book, in my opinion, ranks among the best, despite being somewhat dated. It was still available in reprint editions when this post was published.