121421-BOOKS-CHILDREN

These are book covers for "Joseph's Donkey," by Anthony DeStefano, illustrated by Juliana Kolesova; "The Night the Saints Saved Christmas," by Gracie Jagla, illustrated by Michael Corsini; and "The Wordless Weaver," by Claudia Cangilla McAdam, illustrated by Caroline Baker Mazure. The books were reviewed by Regina Lordan. (CNS composite/courtesy Sophia Institute Press, Our Sunday Visitor, Our Sunday Visitor)

 

By Regina Lordan, Catholic News Service

 

        The following books are suitable for Christmas giving:

        "The Night the Saints Saved Christmas" by Gracie Jagla, illustrated by Michael Corsini. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2021). 28 pp., $16.95.

        Whimsical, clever and silly, "The Night the Saints Saved Christmas" will leave readers rooting for a heroic community of saints who all pitch in to help out a bedridden St. Nicholas.

        Using their particular strengths and regional knowledge, recognizable saints tackle the enormous task now in potential peril of delivering gifts to children around the world. St. Joan of Arc carries her load on horseback while St. John Paul II balances his bundle on skis to save the day.

        Each saint's selfless and joyful contribution to save Christmas importantly reminds readers that a Christmas gift is a symbol of God's grace. A great story with a sweet message for Catholic children, this rhyming book will be enjoyed year after year. Ages 5 and up.

        "Ephraim's Gladness" by Madeleine Carroll, illustrated by Randy Friemel. Isaiah Books (Little Bookham, United Kingdom, 2021). 28 pp., $16.05.

        Catholic children's book author Madeleine Carroll once again has written a book with prose so gentle and calming that it reads almost like a lullaby. Illustrated with beautiful original oil scenes, "Ephraim's Gladness" combines the parable of the lost sheep with the Nativity story.

        Enjoyable for adults and children alike, this book naturally lends itself to a reading and discussion of the Gospel of Luke. The two biblical stories inspiring the story are included to help facilitate reflection. Ages 4-8.

        "The Beggar and the Bluebird" by Anthony DeStefano, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey. Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, New Hampshire, 2021). 32 pp., $16.95.

        Those who appreciate Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince" will find in "The Beggar and the Bluebird" a charming picture book that is memorable if not a little predictable. Laden with themes highlighting selflessness and charity, this book will leave readers feeling a little sad but full of hope.

        Set within a snowy urban Christmas season, the book is a fitting addition to author Anthony DeStefano's lengthy list of poignant children's books. Ages 5-10.

        "Joseph's Donkey" by Anthony DeStefano, illustrated by Juliana Kolesova. Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, New Hampshire, 2021). 40 pp., $16.95.

        Even the most stoic reader can't not weep just a little after reading "Joseph's Donkey," another perfectly saccharine children's book by Anthony DeStefano. This is the story of a humble donkey's lifetime of work for and devotion to the Holy Family.

        Told in simple rhyme, the book is beautifully illustrated with soft, lifelike images. Adults and children will fall in love with this gentle beast of burden and the family it serves. Ages 5 and up.

        "The Treasure With a Face" by Janeen Zaio. Perpetual Light Publishing (Columbus, Ohio 2021). 269 pp., $12.69.

        "The Treasure With a Face" is a rare find. Exciting adventures, humorous dialogue and relatable characters help make this chapter book engaging and informative for upper elementary and younger middle school readers.

        This is the story of a precocious but clumsy 12-year-old apprentice tasked by his demanding uncle to trek more than 100 miles to deliver a precious package.

        Although determined to accomplish this mission, the preteen is also eager to simultaneously pursue his passion: treasure hunting. The journey along the way is dangerous and exciting, but ultimately leads to what he was meant to find: the true treasure of the Catholic faith. Ages 9-12.

        "The Wordless Weaver" by Claudia Cangilla McAdam, illustrated by Caroline Baker Mazure. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2021). 36 pp., $16.95.

        Set during the season of Lent, "The Wordless Weaver" deserves to be included as suitable for Christmas giving and as meaningful all year round. This is the story of young Shira, a talented weaver who was born mute.

        Unable to welcome Jesus on Palm Sunday with the same verbal greetings as her fellow Jerusalemites, Shira decided to give praise by offering him what she could -- her handmade shroud.

        This imaginative fictional tale retells the origin of the Shroud of Turin that will leave readers feeling hopeful, joyful and grateful for God-given talents. Ages 6-10.

        "Saint Joseph: Watch Over My Family" by Sabine du Mesnil, illustrated by Henjing Zang. Magnificat (New York, 2021). 56 pp., $13.99.

        This lovely children's book will help readers understand St. Joseph on a new and deeper level. The life of this man of few words is explored with passages from the Bible, stories and prayers.

        "Saint Joseph" highlights the inspirational characteristics of this faithful, devoted husband and father, and even includes a few modern-day miraculous stories that give insight into his good-humored nature. Ages 7-10.

        "Sacred Scripture" by Michael R. Heinlein, illustrated by Frank Fraser. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2021). 24 pp., $12.95.

        One of four hardback books from author Michael R. Heinlein and illustrator Frank Fraser's Teeny Tiny Theology series, "Sacred Scripture" packs a lot of church history and biblical studies into just a few sturdy pages.

        Brightly illustrated with engaging images and text, readers will learn key points about God's word through a brief overview of the key stories, poetry and teachings in the Bible.

        Along with "Sacred Scripture," "The Trinity," "Salvation History" and "Christology" are included in the Teeny Tiny Theology series. Ages 4-8.