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)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Thanks to all who participated in my Three-Book
 -Pascha-Giveaway!  I truly appreciate your taking the time to comment, as well as your pursuit of good books! 

Robyn, Christy, and Amy were the giveaway winners. 

Keep reading!  And have a Blessed Pascha!

This beautiful image is from a card from St. Vladimir's Seminary.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Psst...Pascha Giveaways

Giveaway #1 - A Child's Guide to ConfessionThis wonderful book (companion to A Child's Guide to the Divine Liturgy) is a great little volume to tuck inside a child's Easter basket! Perfect size for young hands, with lovely and colorful illustrations.
From Ancient Faith Publishing: 
This 100-page, easy-to-use aid will help a child understand and prepare for confession. Designed for both younger and older children, this book assists the child with brief, inspirational thoughts followed by prayers and an age-appropriate self-examination based on 1 Corinthians 13 (the "love chapter").  Available from AFP, here
Leave a comment (by 4/23/19) at the end of my post telling me you'd like a chance to win this book - be sure to leave your email so I can contact you!

Giveaway #2 - Spyridon's Shoes by Christine Rogers. Your kids (especially boys!) are in for a treat with this chapter book.  Spyridon's Shoes is a fun read, and Christine Rogers has done an amazing job in introducing young readers to the special-ness of having a relationship with the saints gone on before.
From Ancient Faith Publishing:
Young Spyros spends his days fishing, octopus hunting, and dreaming of attending school like his best friend, Niko. When he encounters an elderly man on the beach after an accident, his whole life begins to shift and change. But who is this mysterious, saintly man, and why is his friendship so important? Take a short trip back in time to the Greek island of Corfu and discover the real reason for the mystery surrounding Spyridon's shoes.  Available from AFP, here.
Leave a comment (by 4/23/19) at the end of my post telling me you'd like a chance to win this book - be sure to leave your email so I can contact you!

Before seeing "The Durrells in Corfu" series on PBS, I had never heard of the Greek Island on which St. Spyridon lived. Both the television series and Gerald Durrell's entertaining account of life on Corfu, My Family and Other Animals, mention a comedic, rather than mystical, encounter with St. Spryridon's relics. I highly recommend the book (which by the way, is child friendly, whereas the TV series is not) as a read aloud to kids who love animals and nature. (Not part of my giveaway.)
The youngest of the family’s four children, Gerald, whose love of animals drove him to become a famous zoologist, wrote in his 1956 book how the family stayed for five years in this Mediterranean paradise until the onset of World War II. ‘Living in Corfu,’ he concluded of the hilarious adventures he recounted, ‘was rather like living in one of the more flamboyant and slapstick comic operas.’ [source]

Giveaway #3 - The Resurrection of Christ, translated by Fr. John Hogg from the Russian, by Elena Trostnikova with colorful iconographic illustrations by Olga Podivilova.  
Fr. John has recently started a publishing company, Exaltation Press, so that he can begin publishing good quality Orthodox books in English that he's translating from other languages as he works with Orthodox publishers from other countries.

This is the Paschal book from the series “Scriptures and Feasts for Children” (books are all pictured at the top of this post). This book goes through the events of Holy Week — the Entrance into Jerusalem, the Mystical Supper, the betrayal, crucifixion, Death, burial, and Resurrection of Christ.  Each scriptural evenT is explained in a clear and simple way that is suitable for the very youngest children.
The illustrations are gorgeous!  Look at the end covers...
At the end of the book is a glossary and "How to Tell Children about the Resurrection" section that goes into a more detailed explanation of the events for parents.  (One thing to note is that since the books are translated from Russian, some of the traditions mentioned in celebrating Pascha - "kulich", cheese Pascha, and pussywillows (for Palm Sunday) - may or may not be unfamiliar to readers from Antiochian or Greek Orthodox traditions.)

Fr. John has done a series of three books, "Scripture and Feasts for Children". All these beautiful books are available from Exaltation Press, here.
Leave a comment (by 4/23/19) at the end of my post telling me you'd like a chance to win this book - be sure to leave your email so I can contact you!

1 - Leave a comment telling me which book (or books) you'd like a chance to win for your children (or grandchildren, godchildren, nieces, or nephews!) 
2 - There will be three winners, with one book per winner.
3 - Be sure to include your email so I can get in touch with you.  If you are uncomfortable leaving it in the comment section, just send an email to me:wendyb1963@sbcglobal.net.
4 - You must leave a comment by midnight on Tuesday April 23, 2019.  Closed for comments after that time.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A Palestinian Girl's Easter Traditions...

Today I'm reviewing a new book, Easter in Ramallah, written by Wafa Shami, with illustrations by Shaima Farouki.

This book focuses on the springtime Lent and Easter traditions of the author's remembered childhood in Ramallah. The Orthodox Church serves as backdrop of the story, without explanation given as to the spiritual meaning behind the somber and celebratory services and traditions that are the focus of the story.  Depending on the reader, this omission may or may not feel like there is something lacking in the message of the book. 

The story centers on a Christian Palestinian girl named Noor.  Her best friend Laila lives next door, and the two eight year olds are enjoying a spring day during Lent. 

They share a sweet and honest friendship and are comparing their families' fasting practices. Laila, a Muslim, thinks Noor's fasting tradition sounds more difficult than hers. And Noor thinks the same about Laila's!

Noor's family has another Lenten tradition besides fasting - they attend church services during Holy Week.  The beautiful Good Friday Mass is Noor's favorite.

Saturday arrives with its Light Parade.  People line the street, lighting their candles from the Clergymen who have come with long candles lit in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.*  There are marching bands of girl and boy scouts.

After the parade, Noor returns home for another tradition - one that is familiar to Americans: coloring Easter eggs.  But Noor and her mother use boiled vegetables to make the colors to dye their eggs!  Earlier in the week they also baked special Easter treats - Ka'ek and ma'moul cookies.

Easter Sunday arrives and Noor goes off to church in her beautiful dress, carrying her Easter basket.  Afterward, her whole neighborhood celebrates... 

 "The neighborhood was just filled with joy, neighbors going from door to door offering their holiday greetings. The kids' excitement with eating Easter chocolate and cookies and smashing the colorful Easter eggs filled the place with laughter, love and the holiday spirit."

Laila joins in the neighborhood fun later in the day and Noor shares some of her Easter Eggs.  Leila is excited to share her Eid El Fitr celebration with Noor at the end of Ramadan.

I think this story is a lovely look at the Easter traditions of another culture, as well as an example of the harmonious relationship that is possible in the innocent friendship of children from two different religious cultures.  May we all aspire to that!

Easter in Ramallah is available on AMAZON.  You can also find Wafa Shami online - at her website, "Palestine in a Dish", here.

*For 1,200 years, every Great and Holy Saturday, the Greek Patriarch has awaited the light in a small dark chamber of the church. After a time he emerges with a lit candle and reassures the gathered throngs that the miracle has occurred again. That flame is used to light many candles, which are then transported to Christian towns throughout Palestine and placed in churches. Some people take the light home and try to keep it flickering throughout the year.