Tag Archives: obedience

Choices: A Review of ‘Perfect Gifts’ (from THe Adventures of Nick and Sam, Book 1)

“The cost of obedience is small compared with the cost of disobedience.” – Saint Augustine

Reading Level

Ages 5-8

Review and Comments

Perfect Gifts is an excellent story about the virtue of obedience and the promblematic consequences  of disobedience.  The story revolves around a devoted family that includes twins, Samantha and Nicholas.  Their eighth birthday approaches and as with all soon-to-be eight year olds, excitement is at a peak.  The children wonder if they will receive the gifts they long for, and Nick cannot wait to see what his parents bought him.  He and Samantha sneak a peek at their wrapped gifts, but nothing goes as planned.  There are regrets and consequences for their actions.  Nick just doesn’t understand why his parents are so upset or that their disobedience has created a broken trust.

A.A. Milne once wrote “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience – well, that comes from poor judgment.”   The twins certainly rack up a lot of experience in this story!  While at a public pool, Samantha’s father actually has to save her life because of her disobedience.  On the twins’ actual birthday, the family plans a special family hike.  Before they begin, both Samantha and Nicholas ignore their parents’ advice to be better prepared and suffer the consequences.  Then, impatient Nicholas ignores his dad and goes to an abandoned barn. Let’s just say a run in with a family of skunks is a very powerful lesson! Yet even after suffering all those very tough consequences, Nick chooses to ignore his parents one last time. He secretly takes all the money from his bank and buys some so called amazing items from an older nieghborhood boy.  On the way home he falls and all his items break.  He is alone with the damage of his disobedience once again.  This time he fully examines his actions over the last few days and it’s not a proud moment for him.  Then who should come looking for him but his father! Nick asks for forgiveness and understands that he is able to start over because of the love and forgiveness he receives.

Continue reading Choices: A Review of ‘Perfect Gifts’ (from THe Adventures of Nick and Sam, Book 1)

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’

Created in His Image: Three Books That Introduce Theology of the Body for Tots

Interest Level:  Ages 2-5


“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.” -Psalm 139:14

Review and Comments:

Everybody Has a Body is a book that helps very young children begin to understand God’s plan for his sons and daughters. The story explains very simply that our bodies are created alike in many ways and yet God created boys and girls to be different in special ways.  God loves us the way he created us, and we love ourselves and others as special creations of God. Continue reading Created in His Image: Three Books That Introduce Theology of the Body for Tots

A Childhood Lesson: A Review of ‘Little Mouse Gets Ready’

“The things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Aristotle

Reading Level: 

Grades K – 1 [according to common core]

Grade  1.1     [according to Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a child reading on grade could read the book independently]

Interest Level:  Grades K – 3

Review and Comments:

Little Mouse is going to spend some time in the barn collecting the yummy tidbits dropped by the animals.  He is very excited to begin his day but first he must get dressed.  The story follows the progression of Little Mouse getting dressed from his underpants to his jacket.  He reminds himself to put the tags in the back and talks himself through pushing buttons through button holes.  When he is completely dressed his mother points out that mice do not wear clothes!  In a flash, Little Mouse is free of clothing and scampering to the barn. Continue reading A Childhood Lesson: A Review of ‘Little Mouse Gets Ready’

Home Sweet Home: A Review of ‘Make Way for Ducklings’

“……‘home’ must always be the loveliest spot in the world, no matter what fairer lands may lie under alien stars.”L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

Reading Level:

Grades K-1 [according to common core]

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

Review and Comments:

Finding the perfect home is a challenging goal for Mr. and Mrs. Mallard.  They are looking for the ideal place to raise a family – a quiet neighborhood, close to the waterfront and places of interest, and a safe location. Their Boston area search continues until they settle on a cozy little island in the middle of a pond in the Public Garden.  Everything is going well until Mrs. Mallard determines the area is too dangerous so they extend their search. Of course being mallards they explore the area that encompasses the Charles River. Eventually they find a splendid location on a small quiet island on the river. They settle in and then spend some time touring the surrounding area. Along the way they meet a policeman named Michael who feeds them peanuts. Michael becomes their friend and a favorite stop on their daily stroll. Continue reading Home Sweet Home: A Review of ‘Make Way for Ducklings’

Taking Risks as Far as Possible: A Review of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.” –Colossians 3:20

Reading Level:

Grades K-1

Review and Comments:

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter, is a classic tale that is ready for a new generation. Peter, that scamp of a bunny, does not heed his mother’s warning about Mr. McGregor’s garden or her instructions to stay close to home.  He immediately goes to the garden and enjoys quite a feast on all the wonderful vegetables bunnies love to eat.  Mr. McGregor spots Peter eating his produce and immediately a pursuit begins. Mr. McGregor runs all over the garden trying to catch him, but Peter is able to escape each close encounter.  Peter is completely lost because of the chase and frantically tries to find a way out of the garden.  Finally, after much searching, he locates the gate and is free once again.  He does not stop running until he reaches the safety of his home and family. By the time he gets home his ordeal has taken its toll.  Peter is put to bed and misses out on the delicious dinner that his sisters are able to enjoy. Continue reading Taking Risks as Far as Possible: A Review of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”

A Third Grader Extraordinaire: A Review of ‘Clementine’

“When the light turns green, you go.  When the light turns red, you stop.  But what do you do when the light turns blue and orange with lavender spots?”  Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

Reading Level

Grades 2-3

 Review and Thoughts

“There is absolutely nothing common about Clementine.”   This is a testimony given by Clementine’s parents, and the reader will surely agree with them after reading about one week in her life. Clementine is an extraordinary girl, although some may say she is a bit peculiar. She has a lot of ideas and impressions about things bouncing around in her head, and the reader is allowed to observe them as they develop.  They provide a good idea of who this young whirlwind of a girl is.  She says, “Spectacular ideas are always sproinging up in my brain.”  I have to “grab them fast or else they get bored and bounce away.” These notions often lead to dilemmas that become more and more complicated, and the consequences of her actions are not what Clementine thinks about until she meets them face to face. Continue reading A Third Grader Extraordinaire: A Review of ‘Clementine’

Inside the Imagination of an Eight-year-old: A Review of ‘Ramona Quimby, Age 8’

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”  St. Thomas More

Suggested Grade Level

Grades 2-3

Review and Thoughts

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary is a realistic fiction story about a girl named Ramona, her sister Beezus, and her parents. We are allowed a close up look at this family as they handle the pressures of everyday life, adjustments to new schools for the girls and the dad, money issues, and family responsibilities.  All of this is seen through the eyes and imagination of Ramona.

Ramona is a lively and dramatic character.  Throughout the story the reader gets an intimate glimpse into her thoughts and interpretations about the events in her life. Many times these thoughts are humorous and may sound familiar and at other times they are not very nice, like those of an upset eight- year-old.  What’s fair and not fair is always an issue with children, and Ramona is no different.  She just desperately wants to be “the clever young daughter who is doing her part to help the family,” but life and her perception of things seem to get in the way, and she struggles to uphold that promise to herself. Continue reading Inside the Imagination of an Eight-year-old: A Review of ‘Ramona Quimby, Age 8’

The Price of Disobedience: A Review of ‘Strega Nona’

“Never bother about people’s opinions.  Be obedient to truth.  For with humble obedience, you will never be disturbed.”–Blessed  Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Suggested Grade Levels:

Grades 2-3

Review and Thoughts:

The story of Strega Nona may sound familiar because it is a retelling of a familiar folktale.  It can be compared to such stories as “The Porridge Pot”, a German folktale, or even The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  In this version Tomie dePaola retells the story with an Italian setting and flavor.

The people of Calabria frequently visit Strega Nona , Grandma Witch, because she helps them with problems using her very special potions.  She conjures remedies for their difficulties , and  everyone is happy and satisfied with the results of their visits to her.

At this time in her life however, Strega Nona feels she is getting old and needs help with household chores.   A citizen of Calabria named Big Anthony applies for and gets the job even though he is known as someone who doesn’t pay attention.  Strega Nona explains the list of chores he will have to do.  She also tells him that the one thing he must not touch is her pasta pot. Continue reading The Price of Disobedience: A Review of ‘Strega Nona’