The Secret of the Shamrock

Book cover: 'The Secret of the Shamrock'
Lisa Hendey
Jenn Bower

As my years of homeschooling younger children come to a close, one of the things I enjoy is to teach religious education at the parish. I love telling the kids about the Saints. I just do not think the students hear stories being told or read to them at school these days.

There's a Frog in My Throat

Loreen Leedy
Pat Street

This is a clever, very colorful picture book with a simple purpose. It illustrates, with funny little cartoon illustrations, hundreds (440 to be exact) of common expressions in the English language that involve animals, such as:

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
"Mad as a hornet."
"I have butterflies in my stomach."
"You're putting the cart before the horse."

A short definition of the phrase's meaning is also included.

How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear?

Brian P. Cleary
Brian Gable

Do you know what homonyms and homophones are? If not, this book will certainly help you understand them. With clever writing and silly cartoon illustrations (and a somewhat obnoxious typeface), they give many clever and memorable examples of each.

Here's a small sampling of text from each of the two segments:

Homonyms are words that sound and also look alike.

But they have different meanings, as in "Can you pass that can, Mike?"

Or "May I sail with you in May and coast along the coast?

The First Whole Book of Diagrams

Mary Daly

I was not taught to diagram sentences as part of my education, so I first viewed such diagrams as a curiosity; however, I have gradually come to appreciate their value as a tool for helping my children understand how the works and ideas in a sentence are related. I have, for example, diagrammed Latin sentences for them to help them understand the structure and grammar of that language.

Aquinas 101

Francis Selman

If you, like me, had very little to no Thomistic Philosophy in high school or college, and would love to know more, this book is for you. What a pleasure for me it has been to read Aquinas 101 in preparation for this review. The book brings forth a surprisingly readable and sometimes funny Saint Thomas!

To begin, I quote from the publisher's site, Ave Maria Press:

A Pocket Guide to the Meaning of Life

Peter Kreeft

If any writer today can squeeze the meaning of life into a small 64 page booklet, the popular and prolific author Peter Kreeft can! The book is short, brief, almost laconic. One can throw it into the purse or even the pocket. And yet, the Pocket Guide to the Meaning of Life has it all: the truth of who we are, why we are here, where we are going, and how to get there.

Great Estimations

Bruce Goldstone

Great Estimations is an eye-popping introduction to the art of, or perhaps the science of, mathematical estimation. Bold colors and clear photographs are used to demonstrate simple, concrete approaches to an abstract mathematical concept. Penguins and pennies. Jelly beans and elbow macaroni. Plastic shoes and paper clips. Practice the techniques for eye training and the methods for clump counting and box counting. Then you can estimate how many of them there are - maybe before your young student does!

Catholic Talks for Children

Rev. Fred Gilbert, O. M. I.

5 volume set
As stated on their website, these are actual talks given by a priest in the 1940s. The topic, or themes, of each "talk" was directed to the season/liturgical theme, so a chapter may begin with references to the need to change clocks to daylight savings time or to a certain specific Sunday, such as Christ the King. Some will, of course, be more relevant than others for the readers. With some preparation time (looking over an appropriate theme beforehand), these should work very well for family read-aloud.

Flower Gardening for Our Lady Chart

Comes with a high quality china marker that works quite well. Children can mark all of their good deeds for each day of the week, as well as affix earned flowers stickers (2 sheets with 100 stickers each included). They can also "lose roses" if they sin ("fight, lie, are unkind, disobedient, lazy", etc) which is something I hadn't seen in a chart like this before. The back of the chart lists rules for using it and how many flowers children should attempt to win daily. Suggestions of "holy rewards" are given, as well as more examples of sinful behavior that will cause one to lose roses.

That Love May Grow

Content of material written for marriage preparation programs is, of course, of paramount importance. Marriage is the building block of society, and Christian marriage, under so much attack in today's society, needs to be properly understood.


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