New children’s books highlight Catholic missionaries, Legos, mystery

By Regina Lordan | Catholic News Service

The following children’s books are suitable for gift-giving at Christmas.

“The Curious Christmas Trail” by Haley Stewart, illustrated by Betsy Wallin. Pauline Books & Media. (Boston, 2022). 80 pp., $24.95.

“The Curious Christmas Trail” has all the makings for an epic — if somewhat unexpected — mystery. The author of an irresistible read, Haley Stewart tells the tale of a search party of brave mice on the hunt for a missing elderly nun, who also happens to be a mouse, on Christmas Eve.

The crew must uncover the clues hidden underneath G.K. Chesterton’s home to find their missing friend. The book includes directions for making paper snowflakes and a reader’s theater script. “The Curious Christmas Trail” is one of two installments of the Sister Seraphina Mysteries, inspired by the Father Brown Mysteries (Ages 4-8).

(CNS photo/courtesy Magnificat)

“Sarah and Simon Seek and Find: The Life of Jesus” by Geert de Sutter. Magnificat (New York, 2022). 32 pp., $14.99.

Fans of the “Where’s Waldo” series, or any search-and-find book, will certainly get hooked on “Sarah and Simon Seek and Find: The Life of Jesus.” Even young pre-readers can participate in the hunt for the characters who encounter 12 major events in the life of Jesus.

Brimming with fun illustrations, this one is hard to put down. Can’t find your targets right away? No problem. There is plenty to discover and learn about the life of Jesus while you are searching (Ages 4 and up).

“Our Lady of Guadalupe and Her Dear Juanito” by Sister Marlyn Evangelina Monge, FSP, illustrated by Amy Rodriguez. Pauline Books & Media. (Boston, 2022). 56 pp., $15.95.

Beautifully illustrated with the brightly colored landscape of the Mexican countryside, “Our Lady of Guadalupe” tells the all-too-familiar, yet continually inspiring, story of the lowly Juan Diego’s encounter with Mary. Mary’s tenderness and forgiveness shines through in the book’s text and images. At the end of the book, readers get an in-depth description of the symbolism behind the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, perhaps giving fresh insight into a frequently shared story (Ages 4-8).

(CNS photo/courtesy Magnificat)

“Julia Greeley: Secret Angel to the Poor” by Maura Roan McKeegan, illustrated by Gina Capaldi. Magnificat (New York, 2022). 40 pp., $15.99.

Born into slavery and beaten as a child, Julia Greeley spent her years of freedom selflessly serving the poor of Denver, even though she herself lived in poverty. With an injured eye from the beating and limping from severe arthritis, Greeley was met with distrustful curiosity by some fellow parishioners.

Regardless, Greeley would deliver goods to these very neighbors during the cover of night to keep intact their dignity and reputations. Greeley died in 1918 and her cause for sainthood was introduced in 2016 (Ages 8-12).

“A Joyful Noise One Silent Night” by Madeleine Carroll, illustrated by Randy Friemel. Isaiah Books (Little Bookham, United Kingdom, 2022). 28 pp., $15.38.

“A Joyful Noise” tells the story of a curious boy journeying from his hometown to Bethlehem to be counted in the census. Young Eliakim keeps himself busy on the long journey by gently drumming to the rhythm of the donkey’s hooves taking them closer to their destination. Upon their arrival, he hears the cry of a newborn baby, and that little drummer boy knew exactly how to calm the child (Ages 3-7).

(CNS photo/courtesy Magnificat)

“Great Missionaries Throughout the Ages: 15 Portraits of Faith and Courage” by Gaëlle Tertrais, illustrated by Arnaud Clermont. Magnificat/Ignatius (New York, 2022). 96 pp., $18.99.

Cover-to-cover text, interesting illustrations and maps, and fascinating factual sidebars make “Great Missionaries” a standout hardcover for elementary and middle school students as well as anyone interested in the Church’s universal history and missionary ministry. Readers will journey through time to explore the bravery and adventures of St. Paul to modern-day John Bradburne, the so-called vagabond of God who was martyred while devoting his life to the lepers of Africa (Ages 10 and up).

“The Holy Mass: On Earth as It Is in Heaven” by Kevin and Mary O’Neill. Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, New Hampshire, 2022). 240 pp., $34.95.

The newest addition to the Building Blocks of Faith series, “The Holy Mass” cleverly presents to readers some of the most profound ideas of the Catholic faith with some of the tiniest building blocks. Married authors Kevin and Mary O’Neill re-create biblical scenes and the teachings of the Church with creatively dressed Lego figurines and scenes. Some of the most abstract teachings of the Church come to life with these tangible Lego pieces, which will be sure to inspire little builders to re-create their own understanding of the faith right at home (Ages 4 and up).

Regina Lordan, a mother of three, 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.

Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

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