Extraordinary Lives: A Review of ‘Jackie’s Special Halloween’

“The saints were not superhuman.  They were people who loved God in their hearts, and who shared His love with others.” – Pope Francis

Reading Level: Grades 1-3

Interest Level: 5-9 years

Review and Comments:

Jackie is a pumpkin who very much wants to experience all the activities of Halloween.  Other pumpkins in the patch have told her she will actually be able to talk to a child on Halloween night if she is chosen.  This is something she yearns for.  When she is finally chosen by a little boy named Pablo, she is overjoyed.  The match seems perfect because Pablo is just as excited about Halloween and all its promises of candy, fun, and friends.

Pablo’s family sees how excited he is about everything.  It is enjoyable to see him so enthusiastic about the season, but they also want him to understand that Halloween is much more than parties and costumes.  They teach him that All Hallows’ Eve actually means “a day before All Saints’ Day” – a day when Catholics go to Mass to honor all the heroes of their faith.  They also explain how a person becomes a saint.

When the family gets home, they carve Jackie and set her on the front porch where she has a perfect view of all the decorations, costumes, and guests.  She soon discovers she is able to talk to and learn from the boys and girls who arrive for the “Happy All Saints’ Day” party.  As expected, Pablo, his sister, Bella, and each guest is dressed in a costume of a saint.  The “saints” take time to tell Jackie a little about their lives and how they served the Lord.

After the party begins Jackie has some alone time to reflect on all the “saints”. Through their stories she now understands that Halloween is not just about dressing up in costumes.  She knows that we can all experience God’s love and live extraordinary lives.  She determines that her purpose is to be a light for children on Halloween night so she boldly lets her light shine brightly for everyone.

Brenda Castro chose ten saints who are strong models worthy of imitating.  The short summaries of their heroic lives include information about how they lived for God by practicing a particular virtue.  For example St. Francis of Assisi practiced the virtue of obedience, St. Monica practiced faith, and St. Kateri practiced sacrifice.  The guests who attend the party dress in clothes that reflect their saint and a recognizable picture of the actual saint is included with each story.  There is also a 10th century prayer of praise of the saints on the last page of the book.  As Halloween approaches, we once again renew our fidelity to the communion of saints and celebrate and honor these extraordinary men and women of faith.  They are models who remind us that we too are called to holiness – we are saints in training.

Possible Concerns:

There are no concerns with this book.

Further Discussion:

  • Halloween Activity:

“For older children or even adults, “A Trayful of Saints” is a good game. On a tray place a dozen or more objects that symbolize familiar saints. For example: key–St. Peter; flower–Little Flower; rose–St. Rose of Lima; dog–St. Dominic; bird–St. Francis of Assisi; cross–St. Helena; crown–St. Elizabeth of Hungary; eagle–St. John the Evangelist; shell–St. James; Sacred Heart–St. Margaret Mary Alacoque; kitchen utensil–St. Martha; half coat (paper cut-out)–St. Martin of Tours. Go slowly from one guest to another, giving them time to memorize what is on the tray. Then pass out paper and pencils and have them list what they remember, and what saint they think they symbolize.”

  1. This can be adapted for young children by using the symbols described in the story. For example: broom – St. Martin de Porres; rose – St. Therese; animal – St. Francis; picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe – St. Juan Diego, etc.
  2. Ask your child what object would symbolize his or her life.

“Begging at the door grew from an ancient English custom of knocking at doors to beg for a “soul cake” in return for which the beggars promised to pray for the dead of the household. Soul cakes, a form of shortbread–and sometimes quite fancy, with currants for eyes–became more important for the beggars than prayers for the dead, it is said. Florence Berger tells in her ‘Cooking for Christ’ a legend of a zealous cook who vowed she would invent soul cakes to remind them of eternity at every bite. So she cut a hole in the middle and dropped it in hot fat, and lo–a doughnut. Circle that it is, it suggests the never-ending of eternity. Truth or legend, it serves a good purpose at Halloween.

Mother and two children carving jack o lanterns on Halloween and

Catholic Resources:

  • Saint: The “holy one” who leads a life in union with God through the grace of Christ and receives the reward of eternal life. The Church is called the communion of saints, of the holy ones.
  • We are in ‘communion with God’; we are in ‘communion with the saints’. There is spiritual union between all saints and us. We ask the saints to intercede on behalf of us.
    • CCC 946After confessing “the holy catholic Church,” the Apostles’ Creed adds “the communion of saints.” In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?” The communion of saints is the Church.
  • CCC 956 The intercession of the saints. “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.”
  • CCC 957Communion with the saints. “It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself”
  • CCC 960The Church is a “communion of saints”: this expression refers first to the “holy things” (sancta), above all the Eucharist, by which “the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about”.
  • CCC 961The term “communion of saints” refers also to the communion of “holy persons” (sancti) in Christ who “died for all,” so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.
  • CCC 962“We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers”


  • These virtues describe the lives of the saints in the story:
  1. ObedienceAs a virtue, it is pleasing to God because it means the sacrifice of one’s will out of love for God.
  2. HumilityIt is the virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position with respect to God and their neighbors.
  3. Compassion – Pity at another person’s sorrow or misfortune, with the desire to alleviate or, on occasion, even to suffer in the other’s stead.
  4. Forgiveness – Pardon or remission of an offense
  5. Love – The theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
  6. Charity – As a virtue, charity is that habit or power which disposes us to love God above all creatures for Himself, and to love ourselves and our neighbors for the sake of God.
  7. Faith – It is called divine faith when the one believed is God, and human faith when the persons believed are human beings.
  8. Wisdom – The first and highest gifts of the Holy Spirit. It makes the soul responsive to God in the contemplation of divine things.
  9. CourageVirtue of bravery in facing difficulties, especially in overcoming the fear of consequences in doing good. As moral courage, it enables a person to pursue a course deemed right, through which one may incur contempt or disapproval.
  10. SacrificeA sacrifice to God is one that is freely given to God as a sign for reverence and submission to him. Such sacrifices are very meritorious in the sight of God, because they are basically acts of love of God and that is what God wants from us more than anything else — love.

Information taken from CatholicCulture.com.

Information taken from Catholic Encyclopedia.

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