Tag Archives: fiction

Knock. Knock. Who’s There?: A Review of ‘Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China’

“Never trust a stranger-friend; no one knows how it will end.  As you’re pretty, so be wise; wolves may lurk in every guise.” – Charles Perrault, Little Red Riding Hood

Reading Level:  

2.6         [according to Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

K – 1      [according to common core]

3.5         [AR]

Interest Level:    K-2         [Ages  6-8]

A little house…. a basket…. a grandmother….. and a wolf.   These are all familiar elements in the fairy tale Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China. The reader will be intrigued with this version of the story while mentally checking off differences and similarities to the more familiar traditional tale.

The story begins with the customary visit to Grandmother, but this time it is the mother who visits Grandmother while her three children stay home.  As any concerned mother, she warns them to keep the door locked because she will be gone overnight.  This of course is a clue to the discerning reader that they may not follow her instructions and that disobedience will put them in great danger. Continue reading Knock. Knock. Who’s There?: A Review of ‘Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China’

9 Books for Kids to Love During Lent

Lent is almost here and since it is such an important time of year for Catholics, we wanted to make sure you had some of these amazing books in your collection!  Each book shares a wonderful story meant to help kids understand Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.

Happy Lent!

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In The Legend of the Sand Dollar Kerry visits her cousin Jack and she learns that God’s creations hold extraordinary lessons.  Jack shows her a simple sand dollar and uses its unique designs to tell her Jesus’ story from his birth to Pentecost.  Kerry is enthralled with what she has learned and knows that God is constantly reminding us all that He is close.  (Ages 3-7)

God Gave Us Easter is a great story for sharing the reason for Easter in simple terms.  It shows ‘new life’ found where things are seemingly dead and it reiterates the story of Jesus and the promise that he would come to take care of our sins. (Ages 3-7)


Easter is a time to celebrate and Bella and Pablo are excited to experience every aspect of the day in God’s Easter Gifts.  After Mass they go on an very special and memorable Easter egg hunt.  Each egg they find holds a story about a gift from God.  The children learn that Easter is definitely about celebrating God’s gifts, especially Jesus.  (Ages 4-7)

Humphrey’s First Palm Sunday is a sequel to Humphrey’s story as a young camel when he first met Jesus when he was just a baby.  Now he is much older and wiser and is present during Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  The pictures are beautiful and the camel’s goofy nature brings fun to the story.  This story stays true to the story of Palm Sunday and is great for kids.  (Ages 4-8)

Three trees each discuss their hopes and dreams for the future in The Three Trees.  Each one hopes for something different and grand but is met with a much more humble fate.  As they find out, their destiny is much more important to the mission of Jesus.  This is a beautiful story that reminds us of the power of the cross.  (Ages 5-9)

The Donkey That No One Could Ride is a simple story about a young, scared donkey.  He meets a man who asks him to carry him on an important ride.  The little donkey does not feel he is worthy, but the man gives him courage.  He agrees to the job and as he carries the man through Jerusalem and people call him a prophet, the donkey feels special.  (Ages 3-7)   For a full review of this book and other Anthony DeStefano books, read our blog post here

The Parable of the Lily tells the story of a farmer’s young daughter who receives a bulb as a gift.  She is disappointed and the gift is forgotten and eventually thrown into the garden.  She is surprised when she wakes up on Easter morning to find a Lily blooming in its place.  Part of a series of parables for little children, this story shares the message of forgiveness and new life.  (Ages 3-8)

The First Easter Bunny is simple story that shares the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection told through the eyes of a rabbit.  Perfect for an Easter gift!  (Ages 4-8)




Perfect for early readers, The Easter Cave goes through many of the details of the Easter story while using rhyme and rhythm.  Beautiful illustrations and repetition make it a wonderful book to keep in your home.  (Ages 4-8)








Continue reading 9 Books for Kids to Love During Lent

Finding Greatness: A Review of ‘Wonder’

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” –from Wonder

Grade Level:

Grades 5-8

Review and Thoughts

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is one of those great middle elementary books that teaches everyone the struggles and beauties of life and how sometimes they become entwined and we can’t have one without the other.

The story begins with our introduction to August Pullman who has been born with a terrible facial deformity.  In fact, when he is first born, he tells us that the nurses took him away so that his mother couldn’t see him.  He goes on to explain how everyone is so shocked and flustered in the hospital, but when his mother sees him, she notices how beautiful his eyes are and loves him the way any mother would.  And so the book begins with that combination of struggle and beauty and continues throughout. Continue reading Finding Greatness: A Review of ‘Wonder’

Bearing the Burden of Another: A Review of ‘Number the Stars’

“We must stand up for the rights of our neighbor who is suffering from injustice; we must defend them all the more vigorously because we see Jesus present in them. Surely this is our duty because of our love for others for his sake. We have no right to be ‘sleeping watchmen’ or dumb watch-dogs. Whenever we see evil we must sound the alarm.” — Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Reading Level:   5.2 [according to Scholastic which reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

4.5 [AR level]

Interest Level:  Grades 3 – 6

Review and Comments:

Number the Stars is a historical fiction that takes place during WWII in Denmark.  The danger and turmoil in Copenhagen at the time are seen through the eyes of a ten year old girl named Annemarie. She witnesses cruelty and personally experiences fear amidst the bravery and heroic sacrifices of many who “honor the humanity of others.” Continue reading Bearing the Burden of Another: A Review of ‘Number the Stars’

God With Us: A Review of ‘God Gave Us Christmas’

“The Word who found a dwelling in Mary’s womb comes to knock on the heart of every person with singular intensity this Christmas.” – St. John Paul II

Reading Level: 2.7 [according to Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

Interest Level: PreK – 2

Review and Comments:

“Where does Christmas come from?” Little Cub asks her mother.  Mama Bear could answer her question easily, but Mama wants her child to understand deep in her heart exactly what Christmas really means.  She wants to transport Little Cub to the first Christmas so she explains the scene in Bethlehem and the true meaning of the gift of Jesus.  Then Mama takes her out into the world to find God in the most unusual places.  Little Cub learns that God is the Light of the World. He is powerful and mighty.  And God is so generous He gave Jesus to all of us – “the best present of all.”  Little Cub thanks her Mama for “showing her God” and prepares for Christmas with a spirit filled with joy. Continue reading God With Us: A Review of ‘God Gave Us Christmas’

Into the Wild: A Review of ‘The Wild Robot’

“A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.”—Alan Perlis

Reading Level

Grades 5-8


The draw of The Wild Robot is definitely its premise.  We’ve all read stories of characters trying to survive in the wilderness in books like Hatchet and Robinson Crusoe.  We’ve also read futuristic stories of robots who have evolved to act more and more like humans.  Rarely, however, are the two instances put together as they are in this novel. Peter Brown brings us this intriguing situation and, I admit, this is what drew me to the book. Continue reading Into the Wild: A Review of ‘The Wild Robot’

A Gift From the Creator: A Review of ‘God Gave Us Two’

“The joy of children makes their parents’ hearts throb and reopens the future.” – Pope Francis

Interest Level:  PreK – K

Reading Level:

Grade 2  [according to Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]

2.8         [AR reading level]

Review and Comments:

The joyful anticipation of the birth of a new baby is always exciting for a family.  For Little Cub, the soon-to-be big sister, there are also a lot of questions about her new brother or sister. Mama and Papa lovingly answer all her questions and teach her about God’s plan for families.  When they say, “God gave us two,” it expresses to Little Cub that she and the new baby are beautiful and individual creations of God.  They are precious gifts to Mama and Papa.  They also explain all the wonderful things she will experience as a big sister.  The reader sees time pass when Little Cub finds it harder and harder to sit on her mother’s lap because there is less room.  Finally, the day of the birth arrives and Little Cub is very excited to learn she has a brother and a sister.  She proclaims, “God actually ‘gave us three!’” Continue reading A Gift From the Creator: A Review of ‘God Gave Us Two’

The Unloved and the Forgotten: A Review of ‘Wolf Hollow’

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”—Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Grade Level


Review and Thoughts

Our story begins with Annabelle, a young girl who lives on her family’s farm during WWII.  Everything is fine for Annabelle and her family until a new girl, Betty Glengarry, arrives at a nearby farm and starts making trouble.  In fact, in my opinion, she is absolutely horrific.  She begins bullying and torturing Annabelle on her way to and from school and Annabelle is constantly afraid. Continue reading The Unloved and the Forgotten: A Review of ‘Wolf Hollow’

A Simple Gift of Love: A Review of ‘The Clown of God’

 “I am not capable of doing big things, but I want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God.” Saint Dominic Savio

Reading Level:  3.1 (according to Scholastic)

AR Reading Level:  3.7

Review and Comments:

The Clown of God is a story about Giovanni, a remarkable Italian juggler, who performed for royalty and became very famous.

Giovanni’s early life was definitely a harsh existence.  As a matter of fact, as a young boy Giovanni was an orphan who had to beg for food.  It was when he witnessed an ensemble of actors performing before an audience that a yearning began to grow in his heart.  He was begrudgingly given a chance to join the group after he demonstrated his amazing juggling skills.  He then added a bit of flare to his act by dressing as a clown. Continue reading A Simple Gift of Love: A Review of ‘The Clown of God’

Expect the Unexpected: A Review of ‘I Want My Hat Back’

“The things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”  – J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Interest Level:  4 – 8 years

Reading Level:  Grade 1

Review and Comments:

A rather large, imposing bear lost his favorite hat, and he is desperate to find it.  He launches a search in the forest where he confronts seven forest animals, asking each one about his hat.  The animals’ responses are slightly different, but all of them boldly deny seeing or knowing anything about the bear’s hat.  Bear always ends the conversations with a thank you for he is a very polite (but still imposing) bear. After awhile he accepts the fact that his search is futile.  He lies down and laments the loss of the red, pointy hat he misses so much.  Wait a minute!  He absolutely has seen his hat recently, but it does not dawn on him until this very minute where he saw it.  The bear runs across two pages past the animals he questioned previously.  He confronts innocent looking Rabbit who is indeed wearing a red, pointy hat.  The reader will remember that Rabbit has the longest questionable response because he is the only animal who declares he did not steal the hat.  Now Bear is accusing Rabbit of stealing and there is nothing left to be said. Fast forward a bit and Bear is wearing his favorite hat again.  In a humorous twist, Squirrel approaches Bear and asks if he has seen a rabbit wearing a hat.  Bear responds with a guilt-free explanation that he definitely has not seen any such rabbit, and he absolutely would not eat a rabbit. Continue reading Expect the Unexpected: A Review of ‘I Want My Hat Back’