Children's summer reading: books on saints, nature and more - Catholic Courier
"Breathe" by Scott Magoon is a soothing bedtime story with beautiful, soft illustrations. "Breathe" by Scott Magoon is a soothing bedtime story with beautiful, soft illustrations.

Children’s summer reading: books on saints, nature and more

Reviewed by Regina Lordan
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The following books are suitable for summer reading:

"Saint Magnus: The Last Viking" by Susan Peek. Catholic Vitality Publications (St. Marys, Kansas, 2014). 235 pp., $17.95.

Royal bloodlines, brutal 10th-century Viking battles and loyal brotherhood make "Saint Magnus" an unforgettable read. The book tells of the obscure regal saint, a just, gentle and holy heir to the throne of the Orkney Islands of what is now Scotland. St. Magnus faces suffering and trial after trial seeking peace for his kingdom and forgiveness for his brother’s heart. His own forgiveness and devotion to God made Magnus a saint, this legendary story excellently told by author Susan Peek makes this story hard to put down. Ages 14 and up.

"Praying with My Fingers: An Easy Way to Talk with God." Paraclete Press (Brewster, Massachusetts, 2014). 15 pp., $7.99.

Young children use their fingers for everything: playing, acting out songs, counting and making messes. So it is quite natural for little ones to use their fingers to learn how to pray. "Praying with My Fingers," a pint-sized board book perfect for small hands, is inspired by and credited to Pope Francis when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. The prayer is a rhyme connecting each finger to people in a child’s life. Toddlers and parents will enjoy praying with this book together. Ages 5 and under.

"Two Little Birds" by Mary Newell DePalma. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2014). 34 pp., $16.

"Two Little Birds" is about growing up and leaving the nest for adventure. Although there is danger on the journey, the circle of life eventually returns the birds back home. Based on the migratory experiences of orioles, the book’s beautiful illustrations, alliterations and predictive language make the story interesting and attainable for young listeners and beginning readers. Ages 4-8.

"Bird" by Crystal Chan. Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, 2014). 295 pp., $16.99.

Twelve-year-old Jewel’s life has been defined by the silence and sadness surrounding her older brother’s tragic death. Born the day her brother died, Jewel’s birthdays are days of mourning, and joy is hard to find the other 364 days of the year. But Jewel is resilient and imaginative, and her persistent and creative spirit coupled with a new and mysterious friend eventually lead her family to a place of peace and understanding. Rich with symbolism, "Bird" is a compelling and extraordinary read for adolescents. Upon finishing the book, readers will anticipate author Crystal Chang’s next book. Ages 8-12.

"God Yahweh Allah. What Kids Want to Know: 100 Questions about Faith and Belief" by Katia Mrowiec, Michel Kubler and Antoine Sfeir, illustrated by Olivier Andre, Gaetan Evrard, Stephane Girel and Philippe Poirier. Paulist Press (Mahwah, New Jersey, 2014). 192 pp., $19.95.

"God Yahweh Allah" would be a welcome addition on the shelves of classrooms and homes. Written by journalists, the book is a compilation of real questions and answers from children about the faith, tradition and practices of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The straightforward answers, rooted in the Torah, Bible and Quran, are accessible to elementary school students. Although the book is intended for younger readers, adults will have quite a few ah-ha moments while reading this well-organized informational book. Ages 8 and up.

"Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature" by Sarah C. Campbell, photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell. Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2014). 31 pp., $16.95.

The freedom and fresh air of summertime gives children many opportunities for outdoor exploration. "Mysterious Patterns" will open up their eyes to the beauty and awe of nature in a whole new way. Manmade shapes are everywhere, but nature has its own set of often overlooked shapes. Called fractals, they can be identified on flowers, plants, rivers and even mountain ranges. Read this book, take a walk, and discover an entirely new world that you never knew always existed. Ages 4 and up.

"Hildegard’s Gift" by Megan Hoyt, illustrated by David Hill. Paraclete Press. (Brewster, Massachusetts, 2014). 32 pp., $15.99.

Once upon a time a young girl named Hildegard received an extraordinary and powerful gift: She could create magnificent pictures, words and songs. However joyful to others, her brilliant talent challenged and exhausted Hildegard. But, with the help and encouragement of her friends at the abbey, Hildegard used her talent given by God for God. She also realized that every child has a special talent. Colorfully illustrated, "Hildegard’s Gift" is an enjoyable story for all children about this new saint and doctor of the church, but especially those who might need a little boost in finding and appreciating their own gifts from God. Ages 5-10.

"A Pond Full of Ink" by Annie M. G. Schmidt, illustrated by Sieb Posthuma. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2014). 34 pp., $16.

With its clever poetry and creative illustrations, "A Pond Full of Ink" will inspire imagination, laughter and wonder. The silly poems tell short stories about quirky characters such as elderly otters and a family living in a tree. The poems will help instill in young readers a love of poetry and word play, and maybe get some creative juices flowing during the break from school. Ages 6 and up.

"Breathe" by Scott Magoon. Simon & Schuster for Young Readers (New York, 2014). 32 pp., $16.99.

"Breathe" is a soothing bedtime story with beautiful, soft illustrations. The book follows the busy day of a young whale who explores, finds adventure and faces danger. But, as is necessary during an exciting day of exploration for a young child, the whale must take a break and breathe. Author and illustrator Scott Magoon’s use of alliterations and gentle cadence along with the sweet drawings will make this book a beloved treasure. Ages 2-6.

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Lordan, who reads to her two young children, is a former assistant international editor for Catholic News Service.

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