By Regina Lordan, Catholic News Service
YARDLEY, Pa. — The following books are suitable for Christmas giving.
“The Spider Who Saved Christmas: A Legend” by Raymond Arroyo, illustrated by Randy Gallegos. Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, New Hampshire, 2020) 38 pp., $17.95.
Every so often a Christmas book stands out among the rest. “The Spider Who Saved Christmas” is not only the charming retelling of the legendary origin of tinsel, but it also gives readers a renewed opportunity to know and appreciate the trials the Holy Family faced after Jesus’ birth. This is the tale of how a spider, both feared and fearful herself, saved the baby Jesus from King Herod’s murderous soldiers with her intricate web. This also is a story of a gentle Mary, the watchful Joseph and the baby they all work to protect. The pictures beautifully illustrate the wonder of God’s design in creation. Ages 4-10.
“Marian Consecration for Families With Young Children” by Colleen Pressprich, illustrated by Rebecca Gorzynska. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2000). 95 pp., $18.95.
Uniquely geared toward younger children, this Marian consecration preparation helps families build their domestic church by learning about Mary’s role in a Catholic’s journey toward knowing and loving Jesus. This 33-day guide helps set an easy-to-achieve routine and ritual introducing children to one of the many rich traditions of the Catholic faith. The lessons and conversation-starter questions are easy to understand but also deeply anchored in church teaching. The illustrations are compelling, welcoming each child to know that Mary is a universal mother to all. In one depiction, Mary is dark, with thick lips and curly hair. In another, her hair is covered, her eyes tearful. In others, Mary looks young and fair. The illustrations, which are inspired by famous art and Mariology, are part of the daily discussions. Parents will be fully prepared to lead these daily readings thanks to the extensive and user-friendly guides. Ages 4 and up.
“Hope Upon Impact: A Miraculous True Story of Faith, Love and God’s Goodness” by Julie Overlease. Paraclete Press (Brewster, Massachusetts, 2020). 221 pp., $19.99.
“Hope Upon Impact” is the uplifting true story of how a nearly fatal accident simultaneously spins a family into tragedy while launching friends into action. Written by the young survivor’s mother, the book is at its core about the power of and gratitude for God’s presence during life’s scariest moments. Mothers and daughters particularly will appreciate this story of familial love and the value of true friendships. All readers will applaud the much-needed messages of Christian hope. Ages 13 and up.
“The Adventures of Loupio: Volume 5, The Cave” by Jean-Francois Kieffer. Magnificat (New York, 2020). 44 pp., $6.99.
The fifth in a series, this is the story of an orphaned boy named Loupio who witnesses the broad impact of sin, conversion and forgiveness in his most recently published adventures. A friend of St. Francis of Assisi and his wolf, the young Loupio will take readers on an exciting journey. A cognizant audience will not only easily pick up on the Christian message of redemption, they also will note all the examples of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy displayed throughout. “The Adventures of Loupio” graphic novel series will hook in readers with its high-quality storyline and pictures, as well as bonus add-ons such as coloring pages and sheet music. Ages 7-10.
“Where Is the Baby King?” by Heather Henning and Alison Atkins. Pauline Books and Media (Boston, 2020). 21 pp., $14.95.
Perfect for preschool-age children, the bright images and peek-a-boo flaps of “Where is the Baby King” will engage young readers from start to finish. Each page contains a flap covering a hidden picture that helps shape the story of Christmas. “What Did God Make?” is a companion to the aforementioned, this time a retelling of the Book of Genesis. But teachers and parents beware: Although the book is hardcover, the pages — however sturdy — are fragile. Ages 3-5.
“The Donkey’s Journey” by Madeleine Carroll, illustrated by Annie Palmer. Isaiah Books (Little Bookham, United Kingdom, 2020). 34 pp., $9.99.
Sometimes the simplest stories have the most impact, especially in this sensory overload world of virtual learning and media. “The Donkey’s Journey” retells the story of Christmas with special appreciation for the beast who carried the baby. Lightly brushed watercolor illustrations pair perfectly with the sweet story. Ages 2-5.
“A Child’s Christmas ABC Book: Angels in the Air Arrayed” by Paul Thigpen, illustrated by John Folley. Tan Books (Charlotte, North Carolina, 2020) 32 pp., $16.95.
The story of Christmas unfolds letter by letter in this alphabet book for young children. Though geared toward pre-readers, older generations will appreciate the traditional feel of the book. The quality of the text and intricate artwork will likely make it a Christmastime classic. Ages 3 and up.
“Saint Jose: Boy Christian Martyr” by Kevin McKenzie, LC. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2019). 181 pp., $11.95.
“Saint Jose” is the inspiring story of a young boy who courageously felt called to fight for his country’s religious freedom. Canonized in 2016 by Pope Francis, St. Jose left the comfort and safety of family to valiantly fight along his fellow Mexicans to end religious persecution. The story is both engaging and educational for readers. Author Father Kevin McKenzie researched Vatican and Mexican government sources for 10 years, giving readers a foundational understanding of the Cristeros and the anti-Catholic violence during that time. Ages 10 and up.
“Noah and the Ark” by Tomie de Paola. Magnificat (New York, 2020). 32 pp., $12.99.
Although Tomie de Paola died in March, his storytelling and distinctly unique illustrations live on in this republishing of the original. Older generations might remember this book from their youth, fondly recalling the recognizable almond-shaped eyes and pastalike hair expected in de Paola’s illustrations. Predictably ending with a rainbow, “Noah and the Ark” is a much-needed reminder of God’s love. Ages 4-8.
“Be Yourself: A Journal for Catholic Boys” by Amy Brooks. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2019). 91 pp., $19.95.
Fans of “Be Yourself: A Journal for Catholic Girls” will be happy to know that author Amy Brooks has developed a new journal specifically for preteen and teen boys. Engaging, entertaining and rooted in the Catholic faith, this journal is jam-packed with high-quality images and activities. “Be Yourself” offers pages of opportunities for boys to reflect on their Catholic identity and God-given purpose, as well as ways to pray, be a good friend and become a virtuous and holy person. Ages 10-14.
Lordan, a mother to three young children, has master’s degrees in education and political science and is a former assistant international editor of Catholic News Service. She currently teaches and is a court-appointed advocate for children in foster care.