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)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


THE MIRACLE OF ST. NICHOLAS by Gloria Whelan, illustrations by Judith Brown (ages 5 -8).  The first thing that drew me to this book was the pictures, which are painted in egg tempera - a technique traditionally used in the painting (or "writing") of icons - perfect for this uplifting story set in a 20th century Russian village.

The day before Christmas, a Russian Babushka is telling her grandson, Alexi, what Christmas was like in their village when she was a little girl.  With Alexi, we learn a bit of Russian history, as Babushka sadly relates how Communist soldiers closed down the churches in Russia and Christians had to hide their religion.  When Alexi asks why they can't celebrate Christmas there this year, Babushka tells him it would take a miracle.  St. Nicholas, the name of the church in their town, along with all the other places of worship, has been locked and empty for 60 years.

When Alexi goes to the church and finds it unlocked, he decides to clean up the cobwebs and get it ready for worship on Christmas Day. But the altar cloth, candles, cross, the five hundred year old icon of St. Nicholas, and a priest are missing.  The village needs a Christmas miracle!

Christmas day arrives and one by one, the villagers (who, unbeknownst to each other, had hidden various items of the church during the persecutions) begin to bring them back to the church. The biggest surprise is at the end, when the old town "shoemaker" shows up in priestly robes and is revealed to be the town's priest, after years of the villagers keeping his secret.

Because of a first step of faith by a little boy, the Church of St. Nicholas experiences a miracle - showing that governments and time cannot completely suppress faith and hope.

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