Tag Archives: Catholic

Fill Us With Joy: A Review of ‘The Most Beautiful Christmas Story’

 “And in the end, everything else will turn out to be unimportant and inessential; except for this: Father, Child, and Love.” – Pope Saint John Paul II

Interest Level

3 years+

Review and Comments

The Most Beautiful Christmas Story is a wonderful book for young children about Jesus’ birth beginning with the Annunciation and ending with the Holy Family in Nazareth after their time in Egypt.  I was struck by two things while reading this book.  First, the large illustrations, each covering two pages, are filled with wonderful details that truly enhance the story. The second thing that stands out for me is the words and phrases interwoven throughout the story that express the miracle of Christmas.   The first sentence proclaims beautifully that “God sent the Angel Gabriel…”  What a wonderful way to introduce the story of God’s amazing plan.  Then, Mary waits for the Savior with hope,  St. Joseph tenderly whispers to Jesus that their hearts are full of love, the shepherds are filled with peace and joy, the Wise Men feel the light of the star as a sign, and when the Holy Family travels to Egypt, Mary declares that God is with us.  All of these expressions of God’s beautiful love truly convey the Christmas message. Continue reading Fill Us With Joy: A Review of ‘The Most Beautiful Christmas Story’

Pray and Hope: A Review of ‘Padre Pio: Saint Pius of Pietrelcina’

“Pray and hope.  God is merciful and He will hear your prayer.”–Padre Pio

Reading Level:

To be read with children at 5 years old.  To be read independently at 8 years and up.

Review and Comments:

As All Saint’s Day approaches, we are reminded of the great opportunity to learn about all of the holy men and women who have modeled their lives after Christ and show us the amazing possibilities in store when we do the same.  The really amazing part is that there are all different kinds of saints.  Saints who lived quietly, saints who were martyred, and saints who fought in wars are all with Jesus.  They simply listened to His call.

My hope is that my young children will find friends in the saints as I did growing up.  This is why I am so glad to have found the CTS Children’s Book series on saints for kids. Continue reading Pray and Hope: A Review of ‘Padre Pio: Saint Pius of Pietrelcina’

A Possibility for Something Good: A Review of ‘What Do You Do With a Problem?’

“It is not that they cannot see the solution.  It is they cannot see the problem.”  – G. K. Chesterton

Reading Level   

P – Grade 3

Review and Comments

What to do with a problem?  Now that is a dilemma we have all encountered.  The little boy in this story faces a problem he absolutely does not want.  His problem is not specifically defined, but it is extremely unsettling to him.  As the story unfolds his questions and emotional responses together with the expressive illustrations show how small he feels while confronting his ever-expanding problem.

When the boy first becomes aware of the problem, he immediately wants nothing to do with it.  He does everything he can to make it go away.  He even tries to ignore it but that does not help at all.  It first appears as a small cloud above his head and then begins to expand until “it looked as if it would swallow him up.”  And at the peak of his distress, the cloud is swirling around him. Continue reading A Possibility for Something Good: A Review of ‘What Do You Do With a Problem?’

Redemption Through Suffering: A Review of ‘Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy’

“Our body is a cenacle, a monstrance: through its crystal the world should see God.”–St. Gianna Molla

Reading Level:

Grade 11+

Review and Comments:

I’ve always been fascinated by the lives of the saints.  Their ability to see God through suffering, their bravery in evangelization, their relationship to Jesus and His mother, and their willingness to face death and persecution for Him are awe=inspiring.  As a cradle Catholic, I have read many of their stories and wished to be closer to them and learn more about them.  They have been the celebrities I have looked up to, and though my favorite saint has changed with my season of life, I have found that often I feel as though their stories are unrealistic in this day and age.  I can’t see myself being like them and I feel that their virtue is unattainable.

It is for this reason I enjoy reading about more modern people who may not be saints (yet) but nevertheless they have lived holy and virtuous lives.  A few years ago I read about Immaculee Ilibagiza and her suffering through the Rwandan genocide.  Her joy and faith  amidst terrible suffering have been a beautiful witness of God’s forgiveness and love for those involved.  She became someone I aspired to be for a long time, but her suffering was extreme, and often times I could not fully relate.  (You can read more about her here.)  

My newest role model is Chiara Corbella Petrillo. I saw Chiara’s story make the rounds in the Catholic blogosphere a year or so ago.  I read a bit about her and thought it was a sad story, but moved on as people do when they read something online.  Then her book popped up as a recommendation for me.  I couldn’t put it down. Continue reading Redemption Through Suffering: A Review of ‘Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy’

Be Who You Are Perfectly: A Review of ‘Chrysanthemum’

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

Reading level   

Grades 1-2

Common Core  

Grade 2

Interest level

P-3

Review and Comments

Choosing a name for a child can be quite a challenging decision for parents.  Mr. and Mrs. Mouse considered this obligation thoughtfully and chose the name that was “absolutely perfect” for their new precious baby.  They named her Chrysanthemum – the perfect name for their perfect daughter.   As Chrysanthemum grew, she too found her name to be perfect whether it was written or spoken.  As a matter of fact, she often repeated it to herself because she liked the sound of it so much.

When it was time for Chrysanthemum to start school, she was very excited and full of enthusiasm as most children are.  The first time her class heard her name however, they laughed.  Some students, three girls in particular, continuously made comments about her name and thought of different ways to tell her it was unusual and weird.  Unfortunately, Chrysanthemum listened to the harsh comments of the girls and it wasn’t long before she didn’t think her name was perfect anymore.  She even had the drastic thought that she should change her name.  Alas, the next day of school was not any better.  The three girls treated her the same way, and she felt truly dreadful. She shared all of this with her parents and they assured her that her name was indeed absolutely perfect and then tried to help her see why those girls would say such hurtful things. Continue reading Be Who You Are Perfectly: A Review of ‘Chrysanthemum’

Something Very Magical: A Review of ‘Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook’

“You can find magic wherever you look.  Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” – Dr. Seuss

Reading level

Grades 1 – 2

AR 3.8

Interest level

Pre-K – 2

Review and Comments

Miss Smith’s rather ordinary looking storybook is truly quite amazing.  Zach, a student in her class, quickly recognizes its unique nature after the very first story time of the new school year. Miss Smith’s stories are mind blowing!  The first tale she reads is about pirates.  It’s a good story, but this time Zach can actually see the characters come to life right before his eyes and feel the atmosphere of each setting as if he is in the middle of the action.  And he also sees the characters promptly return to the book when the story ends. After that first experience, Zach’s excitement does not wane.  He has so much curiosity about the adventures of each new story that it makes him want to go to school. Continue reading Something Very Magical: A Review of ‘Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook’

Enveloped in Heavenly Grace: A Review of ‘Our Lady’s Message to Three Shepherd Children and the World’

“My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” – The Blessed Mother

Interest Level

Ages 8+

Review and Comments

There are many books available about Fatima, especially during the 100th year anniversary.  Our Lady’s Message to Three Shepherd Children and the World is written in such an excellent way that it is my choice for teaching children about Mary’s appearance in Portugal during WWI, whether in a classroom situation or in a family setting. The author’s voice is relaxed and engaging as if a parent or grandparent is telling the story. Intertwined in the retelling are: Bible references, lessons every Catholic should understand, and questions to prompt deeper reflection about Mary’s message.  At times the author emphasizes the important points of a section by restating the facts as a summary, which helps the reader focus on the main idea. Continue reading Enveloped in Heavenly Grace: A Review of ‘Our Lady’s Message to Three Shepherd Children and the World’

Heaven in our Hearts: A Review of ‘Mary and the Little Shepherds of Fatima’

“There is no problem, I tell you no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot solve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” – Sister Lucia of Fatima

Interest  Level

Pre-K – Grade 5

Review and Comments

Mary and the Little Shepherds of Fatima is a very good introduction to the story of Mary’s appearances to young children in Portugal during WW1 for those who have never heard it before.

The three shepherd children, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia, actually experienced two phases of miraculous appearances.  First, there were three visits from the Angel of Peace (the Angel of Portugal) during which the children were prepared for the Blessed Mother.  During these visits, the Angel taught the children how to pray and make sacrifices because they loved God.  There were promises made also. Continue reading Heaven in our Hearts: A Review of ‘Mary and the Little Shepherds of Fatima’

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

Know That You Are Not Alone: A Review Of ‘The Secret of the Shamrock’ (Chime Travelers #1)

“I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me.” – St. Patrick

Reading Level

Grades 2-5

Review and Comments

The Secret of the Shamrock is about a boy named Patrick and his amazing experience with time travel to the year 395.   The story begins with a humorous incident (for the reader but not so much for Patrick) at his newly adopted sister’s baptism. He secretly brings his pet frog, Francis, to the baptism where Francis jumps into the baptismal font.  Naturally, Patrick’s parents are not amused.  They decide their children need to learn more about the church so they volunteer the family’s service to the cleaning ministry at their parish. Continue reading Know That You Are Not Alone: A Review Of ‘The Secret of the Shamrock’ (Chime Travelers #1)