Catholic Stories

Angel in the Waters

Book cover: 'Angel in the Waters'
Author(s): 
Regina Doman
Illustrator(s): 
Ben Hatke
Copyright: 
2004
Publisher: 
Sophia Institute Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
48 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Inspirational! Impressive! Instructional!

This picture book has a beautiful pro-life lesson for the very youngest among us to the oldest. It tells the story of a baby from conception through birth and into infancy without any details that will require further explanation to our little ones. Told in the first person, the text is brief and easy to read but contains far more depth than most picture books. Simple yet engaging artwork, with peaceful colors and a dreamlike quality, compliments the text. Even my 4-year-old noticed that at the baby's birth, the page backgrounds changed from dark to bright white; while I don't think that he recognizes the symbolism yet, it certainly captured his attention.

Without directly teaching, the author skillfully reminds us that life begins in the womb, with baby aware of sounds and light and warmth. The baby's guardian angel, depicted as a star rather than the traditional winged creature, is more spiritual than physical and accompanies baby from conception onward. The angel is intelligent and gentle while guiding and reassuring baby, hinting at eternal life beyond this earthly one.

My single regret is that this book is only available in a softcover binding. Destined to become a classic, it should be available bound in a durable hardcover.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Additional Comments: My children fell in love with this book the minute they saw it. Down to my toddler they were enchanted with the beautiful, realistic illustrations and the simple, charming text. My seven year old loves how easy it is to read - she returns to it over and over again. I love the beautiful implicit message about the sanctity and fragility of life.- A.V.H. (2-23-05)

Review Date: 
2-23-05
Reviewed by: 

Animals of God - Three Catholic stories for children

Author(s): 
Regina Martyrum Productions
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This audio cassette tells the stories of three different animals who played roles in the lives of the Saints. They are told from the animals' point of view and are appropriate for small children. Similar to other Regina Martyrum audio dramas, they are performed with a full cast of voices and appropriate music and sound effects. I especially like the first story which helps to explain the Catholic belief about the Eucharist and the story of a miracle and a conversion involving St. Anthony of Padua and a donkey named Joshua.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Bigger Stories for Little Folks

Author(s): 
Nancy Nicholson
Copyright: 
2009
Publisher: 
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Number of pages: 
122 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This summer I had the supreme pleasure of reading Nancy Nicholson’s Bigger Stories for Little Folks to my two youngest girls, ages 5 & 7. After flipping through the first, more well-known volume of Devotional Stories for Little Folks, I was hesitant, thinking that perhaps the stories would seem a bit involved and preachy to my two precocious gals. I am happy to say that my fears were unfounded.

Each evening, after Beth and Mae were cozy in their pajamas and had brushed their teeth, they would bounce into my bed and Beth would hand over the book. They listened with rapt attention to the adventures of little Greg and his family, laughing at the mishaps and sobering at the lessons learned while enjoying an innocence that mirrors their own. The conflicts that arise in these stories are never breath-taking or heart thumping, yet they are real and easily understood.

Sweet, but not sappy, like a warm blanket and a cup of tea near a roaring fire, these stories draw children’s hearts close to home, keeping the wolves of the world at bay. There is no need to pit good up against an evil world filled with snares and pit falls that would only serve to frighten and fill a child’s heart with despair. Children instinctively know the good. They cheer when the Peterson children have righted a wrong or made the correct choice. Each tale ends on a happy note, with forgiveness and redemption and a loving embrace. Like our eternal hope of heaven, these stories firmly establish the good as attainable and fill our souls with peace and joy.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Reviewed by Megan Smillie

Review Date: 
10-30-2009

Cat. Chat: The Catholic Audio Show for Kids Vol. 1

Book cover: 'Cat. Chat: The Catholic Audio Show for Kids Vol. 1'
Copyright: 
2002
Publisher: 
Luminous Media
Subject(s): 
Review: 

Vol. 1. Mary leads Me Closer to Jesus.
"Cat. Chat." "Cat. Chat." That is all my children have been singing for the last two days, since they received the two Cat. Chat CDs (short for Catholic chats about God). These CD's combine "faith-filled" stories, lively (contemporary Catholic/Christian) songs and heartfelt prayer, all within the context of family life. These kid-appealing CD's also include the family cat, Moses, who introduces the family, makes comments, and closes each session.

In volume one, the characters include the dad and his two children, Josh and Hannah. The mom has passed away some time ago. As the family cozies up in front of the fire, the dad relates a bedtime story of Mary's life, beginning with her Immaculate Conception and concluding with her Coronation in heaven. As he relates the story of her life, bringing to life her joys and sorrows, the children ask questions and make comments. This along with the catchy songs and clever sound effects keeps the pace moving - holding the attention of young listeners while presenting a realistic picture of family life. The dad also asks his children questions and explains difficult points like Mary's Immaculate Conception to lead them deeper into their faith. Through their conversation with their dad, the children come to learn what it means to imitate Mary and say "yes" to God.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
6-9-04
Reviewed by: 

Cat. Chat: The Catholic Audio Show For Kids Vol. 2

Book cover: 'Cat. Chat: The Catholic Audio Show For Kids Vol. 2'
Copyright: 
2003
Publisher: 
Luminous Media
Subject(s): 
Review: 

Vol. 2 Jesus in my Heart
In volume two, the characters include the dad, his two children, and their cousins, Sarah and Jesse. The setting is a camping trip by a lake. As the family with their cousins gathers around the evening campfire, the dad relates stories of what it means to have Jesus in your heart, and how to imitate Jesus even in difficult moments. My only suggestion is that we discuss with our children that as parents we have already invited Jesus into their "hearts" (souls) when they were baptized as infants. But it is always good for children to meditate on what it means to be a good Catholic and consciously invite him into their hearts. The CD also provided a "teaching moment" for my six-year-old daughter who did not understand why the cousins' dad did not love their mother any more. Along with conversation that deepens your children's faith, songs they like to sing and sound effects that catch their attention, the story will lead them to a greater understanding of what the true "ultimate" in life is.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
6-9-04
Reviewed by: 

Cat. Chat: The Catholic Audio Show For Kids Vol. 3

Book cover: 'Cat. Chat: The Catholic Audio Show For Kids Vol. 3'
Copyright: 
2004
Publisher: 
Luminous Media
Subject(s): 
Review: 

Vol. 3: Amazing Angels and Super Saints
It's time to have a party! A saints and angels party. In this volume, the family - Papa, Josh, and Hannah - hosts an All Saints' Party for the kids and their friends. The format is the same as the other two volumes. Moses, the family cat, introduces the audio show with commentary in the middle and at the end, the family has discussions about the faith to lead the children to a greater understanding of the Catholic truths of the faith, the dialogue is interspersed with lively, contemporary songs, and the evening's entertainment closes with a prayer. To spice up the program with a little variety, a new character, Rocko - "the coolest dog in town" (who likes to banter with Moses) - joins the cast.

Just as in a real Saints' Day party, the children take turns on stage, dressed in costume, giving presentations of various saints and angels, including St. Michael, St. Therese, a Guardian angel, St. Dominic Savio, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Dressed as St. Joseph, Papa also gives a presentation. With all new foot-tapping songs your children will love to sing, sound effects with pizzazz, and interesting stories to encourage them to live more like Jesus, this CD is sure to be a hit.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
7-7-04
Reviewed by: 

Catholic Children's Treasure Box

Book cover: 'Catholic Children's Treasure Box'
Copyright: 
1950
Publisher: 
TAN Books
Binding: 
Softcover
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Treasure Box Books: 20 volume set

This set of colorful books for ages 3-8 are reprints of a Catholic magazine from the 1950s. They are filled with stories, games, picture puzzles, poems, crafts, etc. The pictures are beautiful and I like the very simple moral lessons many of the stories teach. (For example, when my daughter was three, she was very impressed by a story called "Peter the Picky Eater". Her eating habits changed and she honestly admitted that she wished I hadn't read it to her.) There are currently 20 volumes in print out of more than 60 that were originally published (unfortunately it may take quite awhile to find out what happens to Wupsy in the end!).

We have especially enjoyed the St. Therese stories from the first few volumes. These have been a favorite mostly among the preschool set in our family. While many Catholic homeschool parents treasure these books, there are two complaints that I've heard from a number of parents. First, some parents have bought the set thinking they would be nice for early grade school and found them to be more appropriate for preschool (as read-alouds). Second, the pedagogy at times doesn't hold up to serious scrutiny. Complaints include the sappy way in which the devil is presented in the Wupsy stories and the "self-righteous" expressions on some of the faces in the illustrations.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
8-21-02
Reviewed by: 

Catholic Stories for Boys and Girls

Book cover: 'Catholic Stories for Boys and Girls'
Copyright: 
1995
Publisher: 
Neumann Press
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
140 pages
Resource Type: 
Review: 

These charming readers, which are appropriate for a second grade reading level, contain "stories written and compiled in days long past by Catholic nuns in America and dedicated to Mary the Mother of God our dear Lady of the Miraculous Medal." My second grader (who is somewhat advanced in reading level) enjoyed these very much and polished off all four volumes in the first week of school - including one book which she read straight through without putting it down (she requested that I include that detail in the review). She really loves the small size and the beauty of the books themselves and has read them over and over.

I thought it was nice how the stories were so often inter-related as many of them were about the Sisters of Charity and some of their pupils, the founder St. Vincent de Paul, and other related saints, including St. Catherine Laboure and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The books introduced my daughter to these saints and others (including St. Isaac Jogues and St. Edmund Campion) and she is now planning on working her way through the Vision Books and Mary Fabyan Windeatt titles about these saints.

The books would offer some good reading practice, a little more appealing than the older Catholic reading texts, while promoting Catholic virtues and tidbits from history. The numerous illustrations are black and white silhouette-like drawings.

Because the books were written for younger children many decades ago, they do display a slight amount of "twaddle" in a few places (along the lines of "'Tick, tock, tick, tock,' said the schoolroom clock as it looked down on the children reading and writing. It liked the French country children." - fortunately, most of the stories are not written in this style) and some don't like the way that souls are described as "black" or "white" instead of "in the state of sin" or "in the state of grace" because of the confusing connotations with regard to ethnic background (this also comes up in the Treasure Box Books). Also, although I don't think the authors intended it to come across this way, there is one story in the fourth book which appears to condone one boy beating up another for calling his brother a thief and for cursing. If I remember right, all of these possible objections are limited to the same story in the fourth book ("The Flowery Kingdom" starting on page 45).

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

4 volumes, 140 pages each

Review Date: 
10-02-2000
Reviewed by: 

Devotional Stories for Little Folks

Book cover: 'Devotional Stories for Little Folks'
Author(s): 
Nancy Nicholson
Copyright: 
2002
Publisher: 
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
200 pages
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Nancy Nicholson (author of numerous titles from Catholic Heritage Curricula including the My Catholic Speller and Language of God for Little Folks series) hits another homerun with this new title. Thirty-six stories centering around family life offer humor, entertainment and gentle lessons in morality. The stories are perfect for reading aloud during breakfast or lunch. Each story includes related quotes from the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church, vocabulary words and questions for discussion. My children have taken great delight in listening to and "figuring out" these charming stories.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1-28-03
Reviewed by: 

Legends of Saints and Beasts

Book cover: 'Legends of Saints and Beasts'
Author(s): 
Ann Marie Jauss
ISBN: 
1 930 873 182
Copyright: 
2000
Publisher: 
Neumann Press
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
48 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

What a lovely book! Legends of Saints and Beasts retells the stories of four saints and their associations with animals. Included in this beautiful hardbound collection are the stories of Saint Jerome and the lion, Saint Roch and his dog, Saint Francis and the Wolf, and Saint Macarius and the hyena. The text is written in a decorative style in which capital letters are colored in a pattern reminiscent of medieval texts, and the colorful line-drawn illustrations are charming. The choice of vocabulary also has an old-world feeling to it that adds a great deal to the stories' style but puts the independent reading level probably from fourth grade and up. The final three pages of the book contain more detailed background information about the lives of these saints, making this an even more special book. Highly recommended!

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Copyrights 1954/2000

Review Date: 
8-21-02
Reviewed by: 

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