Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Saturday, August 28, 2010


UNDER THE GRAPEVINE is a beautiful story told by Chrissi Hart, about her grandmother, as a young child.  She lived with her family on the island of Cyprus.  The author, also born in Cyprus, tells us in the preface:
This book is based on a true story about my grandmother that my mother used to tell me.  Now I tell it to my children, and I want to share it with others so they may learn about Saint Kendeas..."

For us in the modern world, this simple retelling comes across as refreshing and innocent, as the storyteller lovingly unfolds a quiet tale, handed down over several generations, about a very sick girl, her worried (but faithful and believing parents), and a saint who lived over a thousand years ago...

The doctors didn't know what was wrong with Christina, but she couldn't walk.  Her mother lit candles for her in church every Sunday and prayed for her healing.  Christina, too, would pray as she lay under a grapevine near the field where her parents worked on their farm.  But she grew even sicker.

Fearing Christina might die, her mother began to ask Saint Kendeas, a much loved Wonderworker and local saint, for his intercessions. 
Christina's mother knew God worked through him and other saints to heal  the sick.  "Please hear my prayer and help our child get well" her mother prayed with all her heart and soul, "Lord Christ our God, Son of God have mercy on us and save us.  Mother of God, save us."  Her mother would pray all day long and into the evening.

A miracle begins to take shape when an old "grandfather" comes to Christina under the grapevine and takes her to a church with a small cave "filled with icons and candles...and a holy spring."  You'll have to read the book to see what happens.

The pictures in this book are a wonderful backdrop for the storytelling.  I love the old-world feel of Claire Brandenburg's beautiful illustrations of  countryside farms and the village church with its familiar, yet ancient icons of Christ and His Saints.

There is a note at the end of the book about St. Kendeas, who  lived sometime between the seventh and tenth centuries.  His love for Christ led him, at the age of 18, to become a monk.  He left his homeland (modern Germany) and lived a monastic life in the desert of Jordan. Eventually he travelled to Cyprus, where he lived in a cave alone.  By God's grace, many miracles have been attributed to him during his lifetime, as well as after.

Author, Dr. Chrissi Hart, a clinical psychologist, helped troubled children for 20 years in England.  She now writes stories for children and has a podcast, READINGS FROM UNDER THE GRAPEVINE, on Ancient Faith Radio, where you can hear her soothing voice reading aloud books of all kinds for all ages.  Dr. Hart's children's books are available from Conciliar Press, if you click here.  Visit her website, http://chrissihart.com/, for her blog, information about her books, and psychology resources for children.

There is nothing impossible unto those who believe; lively and unshaken faith can accomplish great miracles in the twinkling of an eye. Besides, even without our sincere and firm faith, miracles are accomplished, such as the miracles of the sacraments; for God's Mystery is always accomplished, even though we were incredulous or unbelieving at the time of its celebration. "Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" (Rom. 3:3).
-St. John of Kronstadt


  1. Thank you Wendy for your kind review of Under the Grapevine, a treasured memory from my family! May it inspire children and adults everywhere!

  2. Thank you for the beautiful story, Chrissi.

  3. Go Mom!
    I am interested in reading Under The Grapevine, as well as hear Chrissi Hart's soothing voice read all kinds of books.
    Good work!
    <3 Jonathan

  4. Absolutely lovely blog and so necessary. I wish such a great resource had been available when my children were small! (But then, computers were just on the advent then so...that would have been hard!)
    I would be very happy if you would check out my site, St. Nicholas and Christmas, and let me know what you think. (Oh my, I just noticed you have a link called "Books about St. Nicholas!" I will check it out too!)I have broken my very long book about St. Nicholas and his association with Christmas into short blog posts and envision it as something people can either read alone or parents can read out loud with their children. It will take several years to post the entire manuscript but that is my goal!
    In Christ,

  5. St. Nicholas Center! That is a fabulous resource about that beloved saint! The Center has already graciously set up a link to my site.
    Again... love your site!

  6. That's great, Ann! I can't wait to check out your site, myself. Thanks for the info and your kinds words. :)