Inner Beauty is God’s Delight: A Review of ‘The Sign of the Carved Cross’ (Chime Travelers #2)

“I am not my own, I have given myself to Jesus.  He must be my only love.” – Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Reading Level

Grade 2-5

Review and Comments

The Sign of the Carved Cross is the second book in the Chime Travelers series.  It is about a girl named Katie who travels through time to the year 1675. Katie’s story begins at school where she faces a challenging dilemma involving her longtime friends and their obvious disapproval of a new girl. As Katie contends with her mixed feelings of loyalty, jealousy, and then guilt, she becomes more confused and moody.  Her twin brother, Patrick, councils her about the way she is acting and encourage her to be friendly towards the girl.  His wisdom comes from his own experience with time travel and the lessons he learned.

The family regularly participates in the church cleaning ministry at their parish.  On one particular Saturday, Katie is assigned to clean the Adoration Chapel.  It is here she asks God to help her understand all her conflicting feelings.  As if in answer to her prayer, the church bells chime, the floor rumbles, and everything becomes a blur.  When her surroundings come into focus, Katie finds herself next to what she recognizes as a longhouse, and next to the longhouse is a young girl named Tekakwitha.

This new friend tells Katie about her life.  She is an orphan who now lives with her uncle and his family.  She suffers from the effects of small pox and the unkindness of her family and others in her tribe.  Her life is even more difficult because of her desire to give her life to the one true God. This does not deter Tekakwitha from continuing her loving ways towards everyone however.  She also shows Katie the twig crosses she makes and leaves on paths to remind her of Jesus’ presence in her loneliest times or when the hatred of others is most severe.

Katie is a witness to Tekawitha’s baptism when she is given the name Catherine of Sienna.  That is the moment she realizes she has been talking with Kateri Tekakwitha.  Then, the priest rings the bells during the ceremony and the story quickly moves forward in time.  Kateri is now older. She explains that she must leave her home and travel to a mission where her sister is waiting for her.  They travel by canoe for almost a week before they finally reach the mission.  Kateri is happy and at peace at the mission, but Katie is still unsettled because she has not been able to get back to her family.

It is during Kateri’s First Communion that Katie hears a bell chime and makes her final jump in time back to the Adoration Chapel.  The story comes full circle when Fr. Miguel, the pastor, asks Katie and Patrick to help the new girl from school prepare for her First Communion.  This contact gives Katie the opportunity to apologize and reconcile with the new girl.  Katie knows the lessons she learned from Kateri will not be forgotten, and the small, twig cross in her pocket will be a constant reminder that she is not alone.

The book ends with the story “The Real Kateri Tekakwitha”. There is also a prayer to honor Kateri and a Prayer Before Communion.  The discussion questions will assist both parents and teachers define the important lessons emphasized in the book. Kateri’s story is filled with examples of fortitude and humility in the face of difficulties and suffering.  It is definitely an uplifting story that would be a wonderful addition to any child’s experience.

Possible Concerns

There are no concerns with this book.

Further Discussion/Activities

  • Read the other Chime Traveler books in the series by Lisa M. Hendey: (click on the book for affiliate link)

You can read our review of The Secret of the Shamrock here.

  • Write a story about a particular saint you would like to meet if you could go back in time.
  1. What time would you choose?
  2. What saint would you like to meet? Why do you want to meet that special saint?
  3. What questions would you ask the saint? What would you like to learn from your saint?
  4. What qualities do you think you share with your saint?
  •  The Algonquin, Mohawks, and Iroquois are discussed in the book. Native American Facts for Kids is a site that has very good information about each tribe.
  • Art Projects:
  1. “How to Make a Longhouse for a School Project”
  2. Make a cross. Kateri made crosses from twigs and placed them along the paths where she walked. Make a cross from twigs, craft sticks, or use a precut wooden cross.  Decorate you cross with meaningful symbols.  Put your cross in a place that will remind you that Jesus is always with you.



Catholic Resources

“God made me as I am to know and serve him.” – St. Kateri Tekakwitha

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Kateri Tekakwitha, The Lily of the Mohawks – Feast day July 14

Click here to read more about Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.

Catholic vocabulary used in the book: adoration chapel, Apostle’s Creed, baptized, Blackrobes/Society of Jesus, cassock, First Communion, genuflect, humble, Pentecost, profession of faith, vestments

Items Used at Mass” is a very good site that includes photographs and information about vestments. It also includes the books and objects used during the Mass.

Bible readings:

  1. Read Matthew 5:13-16 – The Similes of Salt and Light. This story shows how Kateri lived her life. She was salt protecting what was the finest in a nation and light by offering her sacrifices so others would come to know God.
  2. [Lily receives her First Communion on Pentecost.] Read Act 2: 1-13 The Coming of the Spirit.

Kateri practiced the virtues of humility and fortitude.

Humility “The moral virtue that keeps a person from reaching beyond himself. It 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. Religious humility recognizes one’s total dependence on God; moral humility recognizes one’s creaturely equality with others. Yet humility is not only opposed to pride; it is also opposed to immoderate self-abjection, which would fail to recognize God’s gifts and use them according to his will.”

Fortitude “One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; it gives a person a special strength of will. This gift confers an extraordinary readiness to undergo trials for love of God or in fulfillment of the divine will; unusual courage to bear difficulties even for many years; firmness in carrying arduous tasks to their completion; perseverance in a lifetime fidelity to one’s vocation in spite of heavy trials or disappointments sent by God; and gladness in being privileged to suffer persecution or humiliation in union with Christ and for the sake of his name.”

Learn the Apostles Creed.

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Creator of Heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord,
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into Heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.




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