Max and Benedict: A Bird's Eye View of the Pope's Daily Life

Max and Benedict: A Bird's Eye View of the Pope's Daily Lifeby Jeanne Perego (Author), Donata Casagrande (Illustrator). Ignatius Press (October 2009)

This lovely children's book is a sequel to Joseph and Chico, the international best seller that told the story of the life of Pope Benedict XVI from his youth to his election as the Pope. With the same award-winning author and illustrator, this lavishly illustrated book is aimed at children but in a way that even adults will enjoy. It takes up the story of Benedict XVI's new life as the Pope.

The narrator of this book is a blue rock-thrush that spends most of his time on the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica and in the Vatican gardens. The bird's scientific name is Monticola Solitarius, and it really lives in these places. His name is Max, and from his solitary perch, Max observes everything in the vicinity, and he is fascinated by one human in particular: the Pope.

Max tells readers what the Pope does on a typical day, and also about special moments in his life, such as the Pope's apostolic trips. The book provides a delicate portrait of the Holy Father's many responsibilities, and it helps us understand the Pope's important obligations that he always strives to carry out with love, faith and dedication.

Max talks about the Pope's private and public audiences, his meetings with heads of state, and with children, important liturgical moments, and the Angelus. He also describes more curious events, such as the blessing of the lambs and of a fire truck. He tells us about the moments that the Pope devotes to writing and prayer. Max flies to see the Pope at his Summer home, Castel Gandolfo, and is sorry he cannot accompany him on his important apostolic trips, but is happy each time the Pope returns to the Vatican. Max is also delighted when he sees the Pope relax a bit, playing the piano or strolling through the Vatican gardens. Max loves music, too, and many of his friends live in the Vatican garden.

Through this wonderful story, the author presents some of the fundamental ideas of Pope Benedict XVI, and the important daily life and activities of the successor of St. Peter, told in simple words that young readers can understand and enjoy.