This book is the perfect intro to the life of Saint John Bosco for young readers. I have always had a fondness for Saint John Bosco myself, and when I saw this book, I thought it would be a great way to teach my kids about him. So we got this book and we read it together each night. Reading a chapter per night, we got through it in about two weeks.
The kids got a tremendous kick out of this book, as did I. The first part of it, detailing Saint John's early life, is full of poignant and humorous little stories about his various struggles and antics. Saint John Bosco comes across as a real person, not an impossible model of sanctity. He is full of zeal for Jesus and the Blessed Mother, and is one of those rare people who is able to combine that zeal with a magnetic personality. By doing so, he was able to touch the lives of hundreds and thousands of people and bring them closer to our Lord.
Two other saints are also mentioned in this book. Saint Dominic Savio was one of Don Bosco's boys who was a model of extraordinary virtue, even at a very young age. He died at 14 and was named a saint by Pius XII in 1954--the youngest non-martyr saint. The other is Saint Maria Mazzarello, foundress of the Salesian sisters. Don Bosco encouraged Maria to found the order after they both had similar visions of ministering to wayward and poor girls.
This book easily held my kids' attention (ages 7 and 6) and they constantly pestered me to read more. They especially loved the funny stories about Don Bosco's tricks as a young man, and his mysterious "dog" that seemed to appear whenever he was in danger. I'm hoping that it also gave them an appreciation for the religious life, as well as some perspective on how easy our lives our today, compared with those poor souls who lived only 150 years ago, many of whom died so young.