Reviewed by Regina Lordan
The following children’s books are suitable for Christmas giving:
“The Advent of Christmas” by Matt Maher, illustrated by Merce Tous. Wellspring Books (North Palm Beach, Florida, 2019). 32 pp., $16.95.
If the name Matt Maher sounds familiar to you, it might be because you’ve heard his voice. Not to be confused with John Mayer, Matt Maher is a Catholic award-winning songwriter and recording artist. A nine-time Grammy nominee, he can now stick children’s book author as a feather in his multitalented cap. “The Advent of Christmas” is beautifully illustrated and simply told. Although nothing particularly unique amid the lot of Christmas books for children, this book can be paired with Maher’s new Christmas album of the same name, allowing families to create moments focusing on the birth of Christ. Ages 2-10.
“Drawing God” by Karen Kiefer, illustrated by Kathy De Wit. Paraclete Press (Brewster, Massachusetts, 2019). 32 pp., $17.99.
“Drawing God” authentically captures the innocence, excitement and imagination of faith-filled children. The book tells the story of a young girl inspired by a recent trip to the art museum to draw a picture of God. She starts with a glorious sun, but is met at school with disagreement at her creation. Then she tries to draw her mother’s warm loaf of bread. Again, she is met with criticism. After another try, the depleted little girl turns to God. God speaks to her the following day in a way she never expected, revealing to the reader that faith shared joyfully is contagious. A gently told original story, “Drawing God” leaves readers feeling hopeful. Parents and catechists will be glad to find passages for extension and reflection at the end of the book. Ages 3-10.
“Made for Greatness: A Growth Mindset Journal for Catholic Youth” by Ginny Kochis. Not So Formulaic/Zelie Press (Stafford, Virginia, 2019). 108 pp., $22.50.
The growth mindset is an empowering pedological theory that achievement and intelligence can improve with belief and effort. Here, in journal form for Catholic youth, the growth mindset is put into practice. Author Ginny Kochis focuses on the virtues to help guide readers into finding their purpose. Sparingly illustrated in color, the book uses holy men and women as role models, and incorporates moments for writing, reflecting and putting faith into action. “Made for Greatness” would be an appropriate gift for Christmas, to kick start a New Year’s resolution, or in celebration of the sacrament of confirmation. Ages 10 and up.
“The Seed Who Was Afraid to be Planted” by Anthony DeStefano, illustrated by Erwin Madrid. Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, New Hampshire, 2019). 30 pp., $16.95.
Maybe it is the sweet, frowning seed with sad dripping tears on the cover that draws children to the book. Or perhaps it is that familiar childhood feelings of apprehension and delight at a happy ending that makes children come back for more. Regardless, “The Seed Who Was Afraid to Be Planted” hooks little readers. The book tells the story of a seed who, without his choice and despite his fear, is burrowed into the earth and becomes a
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