It’s summer and time for fun, but kids need to keep their reading muscles in shape too. So, we’re creating a family lending library for the ministry center at my parish. To help publicize it, I’m writing brief book reviews for the bulletin. We’re calling it “Book Nook.” Here are titles for children and teens I’ve read for upcoming issues. Hope you find something that will engage the young people in your life. I’ve searched for titles hat parents (and grandparents) can feel good about recommending.
- Lucy: A Light for Jesus / written by Barbara Yoffie (Liguori)
Vivid illustrations in the style of animated film tell the story of St. Lucy, an early Christian and hero of our faith who died for her belief in Jesus. Readers will see Lucy as a real-life role model who loved to pray, helped the lonely or sad, took food to the hungry, and gave money to the poor. Following the story of her life is information on the tradition behind celebrating her saint’s day during Advent. This is part of the Saints and Me series from Liguori Press and of interest to ages 5-8.
- The Wolf and the Shield: An Adventure with Saint Patrick / written by Sherry Weaver Smith (Pauline Books & Media)
This is an exciting story set in Ireland during the time of Saint Patrick. Kieran misses his father and now must take care of his mother and younger brother Riordan. That means hunting wolves and trying to impress the warrior Carrick. When Kieran finds a wolf pup instead, he can’t bring himself to kill it. How will he impress Carrick now and be trained to be a warrior and better protect his family? He hides the wolf pup and is slowly influenced by a mysterious man in the woods.
- The Sign of the Carved Cross / written by Lisa M. Henley (Servant Books/Franciscan Media)
This is book 2 in the Chime Travelers series in which twins Katie and Patrick take turns traveling to the past to meet a saint and learn about an issue he or she is facing in the present. In The Sign of the Carved Cross, Katie and her friends are not very welcoming to the new girl. But as Katie is helping to clean the chapel on Saturday, she hears chimes and finds herself in the longhouse of Tekakwitha. Now Katie is the new girl but is befriended by Tekakwitha without question. As Katie tries to find a way to return to the present, she learns what friendship truly is and witnesses Kateri Tekakwitha’s deep faith—and the lengths she must go to to practice it.
- The Voice: A story about faith and trust / written by R.W. Metten (Paulist Press, 1999/2001)
This delightful book is perfect for family reading. The Voice is a fable for all ages with simple, evocative line drawings accompanied by simple yet powerful text. A man is fishing when the first hears the Voice. “Follow me,” says the Voice. But he is content in his life and the timing of the invitation is inconvenient. He jus wants to enjoy fishing. But the Voice is persistent and though the man ignores it, the invitation is repeated in ever more insistent manner. Eventually the man’s safe little boat (and life) spring a leak. Minor complications mount—with humorous reactions from the man—that will ring familiar with adult readers. Complications ensue until the man realizes he must trust the Voice and listen.
- Sister Anne’s Hands / written by Mary Beth Lorbeicki, illustrated by K. Wendy Papp Dial Books for Young Readers)
Illustrated with luminous artwork, his beautiful picture book reads like a memoir, sharing the story of finding common ground among amid change and coming to terms with racial differences. It’s the early 1960s and Anna has a new teacher at her Catholic school. Anna is shy and a bit fearful since she’s never seen a person with dark skin. But Sister Anne is warm and tells jokes. She makes math and reading fun. But ignorance causes confusion and pain as parents begin to pull their children from the school. Eventually during class someone sails a cruel message folded into a paper airplane at Sister yet she calmly turns it into a powerful teachable moment which has a profound impact on Anna and her classmates. A wonderful story with opportunity for discussion about the pain ignorance and prejudice can cause.
- God Knows / written by Kevin Shortsleeve, illustrated by Joan Hutson (Pauline Books and Media)
This beautiful book uses softly colored illustrations and rhyming text to reassure children that God knows everything and care for everyone and everything—the whole world. It a warm and loving celebration of creation and unconditional love.