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Review of “Mr. Blue”

mr. blue book cover

Mr. Blue

Who is Mr. Blue? A modern day saint? A communist? A lunatic? A practical businessman encounters the charismatic Blue and is confounded. Fascinated and repulsed all at once, the businessman compiles a book of his own impressions, interviews with others who have known Blue, and letters.

So who is Mr. Blue? At times, an affluent gentleman who buys houses and fills them with decrepit servants. Other times, a young man with a brilliant smile, dressed in burlap sacks and living in a packing crate. A daredevil flying a kite on the precipice of a 30 story building. A philosopher. A film writer.

In each incarnation of Blue, you glimpse some of the fierce joy that makes him special.

Joy and Wonder

I love Mr. Blue for the same reason I love G. K. Chesterton’s fiction and Gerald Manley Hopkin’s poetry. These modern day mystics had a sacramental view of creation, a childlike sense of wonder, and find a passionate joy in the simple process of everyday life. Although in some ways a book about a very different type of wonder- for the ingenuity and life of a city versus the beauty of nature- Mr. Blue firmly falls into the category of books which reawaken our appreciation for seeing the true, good, and beautiful in our daily life. As a deeply Catholic book, Mr. Blue also reminds us about the wonders of Catholicism.

The Movie Script

The author Myles Connolly was actually a screenwriter for many years. Inside the story of Mr. Blue, Connolly tucks in the plot for a movie Blue wants to make. It’s a dystopian film, a singularly hopeless flight of fancy for such a enthusiastic and joyful character as Blue. A one world government has decimated and subjugated the population. Christianity has been intentionally extinguished. In the end, the last Christian on earth, a priest, manages to grow a few grains of wheat and offer one last Mass as a the world ends and Christ comes in glory.

Does the secret to Blue’s intentional joy lie in this rather dark imagining? Perhaps. Connolly paints Blue as a young man with a dark past, perhaps a man who once lived in the depths of depression or pessimism. But now, Blue intentionally eschews worldly values and lives for poverty and the simple joys of life.

Great for Teens and Adults

This is a book that teens tend to connect with. Blue’s passion and idealism inspires and engages teenagers. I recommend reading Mr. Blue in the high school years, perhaps as part of an American literature year. Adults also find Mr. Blue rather fascinating. Like the first person narrator, we pause and wonder at this St. Francis like modern city man with a heart for the poor and a passion for Christ.

You can buy this book through my amazon affiliate link: Mr. Blue

To see more of my favorite books for Catholic high schoolers and adults, check out my book lists, especially:

Review of “Portrait of the Son”

portrait of the son book cover

A new book from Josephine Nobisso!

Is anyone else a huge fan of of Josephine Nobisso’s The Weight of a Mass and Take it to the Queen? These gorgeous books combine luminous illustrations with fantastic stories in a truly transcendent experience. I’ve been waiting for years for her to add to this series of allegories and it’s finally happening!

Portrait of the Son

In her new book Portrait of the Son, Josephine Nobisso tells a story about charity: love. It’s a variation on an allegory that’s been told many times over the centuries to help us understand a little about the love between the Father and the Son. In the story, an old father and his son live in a world of superlatives. Their great love for each other spills over into helping everyone around them. They create the most amazing art collection in the world, live in the most wonderful house, are kindest to their neighbors, and love each other dearly. When the son dies in the war, what will the father do? To whom will he bequeath his precious art collection?

A Fitting Third Book

The Weight of a Mass reminds us to have faith. Take it to the Queen gives us hope for our fallen world. Now, Portrait of the Son concludes the Theological Virtues Trilogy with an allegory about true charity. I was disappointed at first to see a new illustrator, but then was impressed how the continuity of the illustrations was maintained. Illustrator Ted Schluenderfritz really did a fantastic job keeping the style of the luminous watercolor illustrations in the first two books. Parents will appreciate the extensive symbolism used throughout Portrait of the Son. See how much symbolism you notice, then turn to the beginning and end of the book for a full explanation.

Portrait of the Son is being released November 2021! It would be a great Christmas present or addition to your family library.

You can buy this book through my Amazon affiliate link: Portrait of the Son: A Tale of Love

Or, buy it through my Bookshop Page: https://bookshop.org/lists/book-review-books

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Portrait of the Son” from Gingerbread House Books in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

See more of my favorite Catholic picture books on my list Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners 

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Review of “Saints Around the World”

saints around the world cover by Meg Hunter-Kilmer

Saints Around the World

If you haven’t heard the hype yet, the internet is buzzing about this amazing new book by Meg Hunter-Kilmer! And with good reason! This is hands down the most thorough look at saints from all around the world I’ve ever seen. From Africa to South America to Asia to the Caribbeans, there really are saints from all corners of the world featured in Saints Around the World!

Around the World and Down to Earth

Although this book features Saints from all sorts of cultures and walks of life, the emphasis is on their common humanity. You’ll hear how saints changed diapers, saints gave their grandchildren pony rides, saints did laundry. This is so important for our kids (and us) to understand: the saints were not just great preachers and theologians, they were moms and dads and kids like us!

Broken and Beautiful: The Body of Christ

This book is a celebration of the diversity of the Body of Christ. You’ll read the stories of Saints from Papua New Guineau to Iceland. You’ll learn about Saints in wheel chairs and Saints with birth defects and Saints who were blind. You’ll read about Saints with learning disabilities and speech impediments. You’ll learn about saints with big personalities and saints who were desperately shy. You’ll see Saints from various ethnicities with a great variety of skin tones.

Beautiful Watercolors

To match the beautiful souls described in Saints Around the World, Lindsey Sanders illustrated this book with beautiful watercolor pictures. Many pictures feature everyday items as symbols. This emphasizes the theme that these saints lived seemingly ordinary lives. You may spot a soccer ball, some musical instruments, horses, and more in the background of these illustrations.

You can get a preview of the gorgeous illustrations and read excerpts from the book on the launch site: https://saintsaroundtheworld.com/excerpts/

You can buy Saints Around the World through my Amazon affiliate link: Saints Around the World

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Saints Around the World” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Interested in more of my favorite Catholic books for Catholic Kids? Check out this list: Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners 

Review of “Classic Bible Comics”

classic bible comics cover

Classic Bible Comics from Sophia Press

Lovers of vintage comic books will enjoy this recently published reprinting of a series of classic comic strips. These comic strips retell over 20 famous Bible stories. The book starts with Adam and Eve and continues through to the Ascension and Pentecost. With vivid full color pictures and all the action, I think Classic Bible Comics will appeal to most kids in the 6-8 year old range.

What we liked

My 8 and 6 year olds snapped this book right up and spent a couple hours pouring over the vivid pictures and simple text. They gave it a thumbs up as an exciting and engaging way to learn basic Bible stories such as Joseph, David & Goliath, and Jonah. Their only complaint was that this book was too short!

Comparing to other Picture Bibles

If you’ve seen my list Good Graphic Novels and Comic Books for Catholic Kids, you know we enjoy exploring all the great religious-themed comic books out there. So to compare with some others I talk about on that list, Classic Bible Comics is easier to read than The Picture Bible or The Action Bible. It’s also much shorter: it hits the famous stories, but doesn’t attempt to provide a comprehensive picture of salvation history. Basically, this book is short and sweet, like your favorite comic strips from an old newspaper.

You can buy Classic Bible Comics through my Amazon affiliate link: Classic Bible Comics

Or you can buy it through the publisher: Sophia Institute Press.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Classic Bible Comics” from Sophia Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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Good Books to give First Communicants

May is First Communion time for many families across the country! Looking for a gift for your First Communicant, or a First Communicant you know? Here are some of my favorite books to gift on this very special occasion!

Bibles & Catechism

The Action Bible is a sure-fire way to get an 8 year old obsessed with reading the Bible. My 8 year old knows the Old Testament prophets better than I do, really.

Buy it through Amazon affiliate link: The Action Bible

The Catechism of the Seven Sacraments, or “The Lego Catechism” as my kids call it, can’t help but be a hit with the 7-8 year old crowd. This fantastic resource ties together Biblical history, Catechism, and Legos together in a fun and memorable way.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: The Catechism of the Seven Sacraments

Buy it through Amazon aff link: Catechism of the Seven Sacraments

My First Communion Bible (White) by Benedict

This children’s New Testament includes a forward by Father Benedict Groeschel. 26 Bible stories from the New Testament invite the child to know Jesus better.

Buy through Good News Book Shop: My First Communion Bible

Buy through Amazon affiliate link: My First Communion Bible

Looking for a more traditionally illustrated, simpler Bible? The Illustrated Catholic Children’s Bible has your basic Bible stories told in a simple and easy to read format for your younger First Communicant.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible

Buy it through Amazon aff link: Catholic Children’s Illustrated Bible

Prayer Books

Through the Year with Jesus: Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children

I’m a huge fan of this book of Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children. I love that it combines Lectio Divina and Visio Divina into a simple and effective devotional kids can understand. Check out my full review here! ADD

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: Through the Year with Jesus

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Through the Year with Jesus: Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children

This lovely hardcover prayer book makes a great gift for a First Communicant with its section of Eucharistic prayers. Perfect for reading before or after Mass. Full review here.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Catholic Treasury of Prayers and Verses

My First Holy Communion: Prayers for a Lifetime by Piper, Sophie

This keepsake book has lovely watercolor illustrations and prayers on a wide variety of topics.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: My First Holy Communion

‘Buy it through my Amazon Affiliate link: My First Holy Communion

A small traditional prayer book perfect for little hands to carry to Mass or for slipping in a purse.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Catholic Children’s Prayer Book

Religious Fiction and More

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells a legend about a town that had lost faith in the miracle of the Eucharist… until a miracle occurs in the town bakery.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: The Weight of a Mass

Buy it through my Amazon Affiliate link: The Weight of a Mass

The King of the Golden City is a lovely allegory by Mother Mary Loyola that helps children understand readying their hearts for Jesus. There are two editions: the original that appeals more to girls and a special edition for boys.

Buy the original edition through my Amazon affiliate link: The King of the Golden City

Buy the boys’ edition: The King of the Golden City: Special Edition for Boys

Life of Our Lord for Children, A | Catholic Books Direct

A Life of Our Lord for Children by Marigold Hunt is a story-like telling of Jesus’ life, ministry, establishment of His Church on earth, and death.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Life of Our Lord for Children

Heavenly Hosts tells the stories of real Eucharistic miracles! Kids will love learning about the power of the Eucharistic through these stories.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Heavenly Hosts

Patron Saint of First Communicants: The Story of Blessed Imelda Lambertini by Windeatt, Mary Fabyan

Did you know Blessed Imelda is the patron saint of First Communicants? Learn all about her in this book from Mary Fabyan Windeatt.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: Patron Saint of First Communicants

Buy it through Amazon affiliate link: Patron Saint of First Communicants

Saints Chronicles Collection 1 by Sophia Institute Press

The Saint Chronicles series now has 5 exciting and vibrantly illustrated volumes. These books are “cool” even to kids who usually don’t like reading!

Buy through Good News Book Shop: The Saints Chronicles

Buy through Amazon affiliate link: Saints Chronicles Collection 1

My Path to Heaven is a fantastic meditative book that introduces children to Visio Divina and Ignatian spirituality.

Buy it through Good News Book Shop: My Path to Heaven

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: My Path to Heaven: A Young Person’s Guide to the Faith

Made for Greatness is a one of a kind journal that encourages 8-12 year olds to develop a positive growth mindset. By reading about recent saints and using journaling prompts, kids will gain confidence and develop habits they can be proud of. Check out my full review here.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Made for Greatness: A Growth Mindset Journal for Courageous Catholic Youth

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Review of “Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus”

Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus

Like author Maura McKeegan, I discovered Biblical typology in college and was utterly fascinated. As a well-catechized, homeschooled cradle Catholic, I couldn’t believe I had never learned about all the amazing parallels between the Old and New Testament. Now, with the Old and New series of picture books, you can teach your 5-10 year olds about typology as they become familiar with Bible stories.

What is Biblical Typology?

Biblical typology is the study of seeing the prefiguring of people and events of the New Testament and covenant in the Old Testament and covenants. McKeegan quotes Augustine’s explanation:

The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old is unveiled in the New.

Saint augustine

In McKeegan’s Old and New Series, of which Saved by the Lamb is the fourth volume, you and your children can see how Old Testament figures like Jonah, Adam, and Moses are types of Christ.

Saved by the Lamb: how Moses foreshadows Jesus

In Saved by the Lamb, McKeegan traces Moses’ life and the events of Passover. On each page, you’ll read a paragraph about Moses, then a paragraph about Jesus. The parallel placement of the text with carefully selected similar meter and diction really brings home to children the parallels. You’ll be crying out in surprise with your kids as the amazing parallels unfold.

You’ll understand the Gospel of Matthew better: why Matthew, the learned Jew, was so excited about Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. You’ll learn how the centuries of Passover sacrifice was conditioning the Jews to understand Jesus as the Paschal lamb that must be slain to save the people. And so much more!

An Important Catechesis

These simple picture books really provide an amazing opportunity for early catechesis. I believe they’ll awaken an interest in Biblical typology and scriptural exegesis in many children. The target age is 5-10, and I found this spot on for my own children: it went over my 4 year olds head mostly, but my 6 and 8 year olds loved it and kept interrupting to restate the connections. You can buy these books through my Amazon affiliate link: Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Saved by the Lamb” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Check out my some of my other favorite books on My Book Lists page!

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Review of “Through the Year with Jesus”

A hit at my house!

This year, I’ve been testing out Katherine Bogner’s new children’s Bible Study book: Through the Year with Jesus. And I have to say, it has just blown me away! Not only that, my kids love this book too and now look forward to our weekly Bible study time.

What I love about it!

First, I love the fact that this is a weekly book. Once a week is so much more doable with a busy family with littles than aiming for a daily reflection and feeling bad about how many days you end up skipping. In Through the Year with Jesus, you can just pick one time weekly to read and reflect with your children, whether it’s Sunday before Mass, as part of a morning basket rotation, or during a special family dinner night.

Also, I love that this book follows the Liturgical year. It begins with Advent, the beginning of the Liturgical year, and provides a reflection for each week of Advent, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter Season, and the second Ordinary Time. Is this book specific to a particular Gregorian Calendar year, you ask? No. The readings are chosen to be in the spirit of the season of the Liturgical year but are timeless and appropriate for any given Gregorian year.

Lectio Divina …

These Gospel Reflections are written in the time-tested Lectio Divina method of Bible study. Saints through the ages have practiced this simple but effective method of meditation on God’s Word. There are 4 steps to Lectio Divina: Lectio. Meditatio, Oratio, and Contemplatio. Katherine Bogner simplifies and translates the steps to: Read, Meditate, Pray, Listen. In Through the Year with Jesus, you’ll find a Bible story for each week, discussion prompts for meditation, journaling, or discussion, prayer prompts, and suggestions for practical application.

and Visio Divina

I also love that Through the Year with Jesus uses a lot of Visio Divina. Similar to Lectio Divina, in Visio Divina, you gaze on religious art, meditate on the insights the art gives us into the scene, pray about it, and listen for what God is trying to teach you in this picture. Sound complicated? Really, it’s not, I promise! This is my kids favorite part of this book. We spend about 60 seconds silently looking at the religious painting, then talk about it, often using the prompts from the book. And if you’re wondering, the artwork is high-quality reproductions in full color! You’ll see art from Rubens, Fra Angelico, Barocci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and dozens of other great artists.

You can start at any time!

Since this book follows the Liturgical seasons, you can jump in at any point. It would make a great Easter basket gift, and you could begin the readings with the Easter season section and continue through all the way to the following Lent and beyond. This beautiful and inspiring devotional will be sure to help your family understand- and pray- the Bible like never before!

You can buy it through my Good News Book Shop link: Through the Year with Jesus

Or through my Amazon affiliate link: Through the Year with Jesus

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Through the Year with Jesus” from Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Check out more great books for Catholic kids on My Book Lists!

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Review of “The Thief Who Stole Heaven”

The Thief Who Stole Heaven: A Legend

Following up his bestselling The Spider Who Saved Christmas, Raymond Arroyo and illustrator Randy Gallegos offer another gorgeous and inspiring picture book for Catholic kids. Just in time for Lent, The Thief Who Stole Heaven tells the unforgettable story of St. Dismas

In the Spirit of Lent

The spirit of Lent can be summed up in the brief words the priest offers to each of us on Ash Wednesday: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” The legend of St. Dismas fits perfectly with this Lenten message. As you’ll read in The Thief Who Stole Heaven, Dismas lived a life of sin and violence. Nevertheless, he achieved perfect repentance and believed in Jesus as they died side by side. We’re all sinners, and we all need to repent. St. Dismas teaches us how to do this with humility and faith.

The Journey to Egypt

In addition to telling the story of St. Dismas, The Thief Who Stole Heaven tells us what might have happened after the Holy Family fled the cave and soldiers. We don’t know what adventures the Holy Family encountered as they journeyed to Egypt, bags full of treasure from the Magi. Raymond Arroyo fills in the blanks of what might have happened, weaving a meeting with a young Dismas into their journey.

Luminous Artwork

What I love most about The Thief Whole Stole Heaven is the detailed art. A clever use of light draws your attention to the infant and Mary each time they appear, mirroring the book’s message about the mesmerizing gaze of Christ.

Who Should Read It?

St. Dismas’ life was violent and sad. Smaller children may be distubed to hear about his miserable childhood and violent deeds, though Arroyo does a good job of wording the story to go over the littlest listeners’ heads. I think 6-8 year olds will enjoy this story, while less sensitive younger children could also handle the vague descriptions of violence.

Where to buy it?

If you would like to purchase this wonderful new book for your family, you can buy it at:

My BookShop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/book-review-books

My Amazon affiliate link: The Thief Who Stole Heaven

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “The Thief Who Stole Heaven” from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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Review of “The Imitation of Mary”

On this feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I want to tell you about The Imitation of Mary, an exceptional new book from Father Quan Tran.

The Imitation of Mary

The Imitation of Mary: Keys to Growth in Virtue and Grace isn’t just a reflection on the life of Mary. It’s a handbook to help any Catholic deepen their spirituality with concrete, practical advice and exercises. Father Tran chooses 12 essential qualities of Mary and uses each quality as a springboard to explain many different ways to deepen your relationship with God and transform your spiritual disposition. The Marian qualities Father Tran focuses on include: humility, confidence in God, union with God, joy in the Lord, docility to God’s will, abandonment to Divine Providence, and more! Each chapter ends with specific suggestions to help you implement the studied quality in your own life.

A Valuable Synthesis of Spiritual Wisdom over the Ages

Father Tran gleans kernels of spiritual advice from centuries of Catholic saints and theologians and collects them into this well-organized book. You’ll find a phenomenal explanation of Ignatian discernment, a straightforward take on the four common obstacles to faith, and a thoughtful reflection on the mystery of suffering- all in one book! Drawing on everything from St. Faustina to Pascal to the Catechism to the Summa Theologica to the Bible, Father Tran explains how to implement theMarian qualities which will lead us to holiness.

A Must-have for the Catholic Family Library

The Imitation of Mary achieves that delicate balance of being both easily readable and extremely educational. It’s a book I plan to keep to share with my children as they reach the high school years. This book would make an excellent gift for a new adult Catholic or Confirmandi, but also has many riches to offer for Catholics who are looking for a way to deepen their faith in concrete and practical ways.

Buy The Imitation of Mary through my amazon affiliate link: The Imitation of Mary: Keys to Growth in Virtue and Grace

Buy The Imitation of Mary through my Bookshop affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/lists/book-review-books

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “The Imitation of Mary” from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

rosary on holy bible

Good News Book Shop: A Catholic Bookstore

Looking for an online Catholic Book Store to browse and support? Check out Good News Book Shop, a Catholic-owned online bookstore also that provides quality books for School Book Sales and Homeschool Fundraisers.

Good News Book Shop - Catholic books, Christian books and clean reads for kids and adults

What makes Good News Book Shop different? The owners are committed to only offering titles whose content is in line with our Catholic faith. You (or your kids) can safely peruse this book store without being bombarded with graphic or offensive titles.

You can find many of the books which I recommend for your family library at this online Catholic bookstore. Their pricing is affordable and they offer free shipping on orders over $35. I’m excited to use this Amazon alternative when I can.

Check out this sampling of favorites from my lists that are now available through this online Catholic bookstore! And stay tuned for Good News Book Shop to begin carrying more of the titles we love here at Good Books for Catholic Kids.

Children’s Classics

Adult Classics

Saint Books

Children’s Classics

The Boxcar Children Fully Illustrated Edition by Warner, Gertrude Chandler
The Wind in the Willows by Grahame, Kenneth
Around the World in Eighty Days by Verne, Jules
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Twain, Mark
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Twain, Mark
The Hobbit: Or, There and Back Again by Tolkien, J. R. R.
Anne of Green Gables by Montgomery, L. M.
The Railway Children by Nesbit, E.
The Red Badge of Courage by Crane, Stephen

Adult Classics

A Tale of Two Cities: A Story of the French Revolution by Dickens, Charles
Voyage to Alpha Centauri by O'Brien, Michael D.
Joan of Arc by Twain, Mark

Saint Books

A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of Saint Camillus de Lellis by Peek, Susan
Maximilian Kolbe: A Saint in Auschwitz by Vivier, Jean- Francois
Saint Francis of the Seven Seas by Nevins, Albert J.
Blessed Francisco Marto of Fatima by Cirrincione
Father Miguel Pro: A Modern Mexican Martyr by Muller, Gerald
Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints by Swaim, Colleen
Saints Chronicles Collection 5 by Sophia Institute Press
Francis and Clare, Saints of Assisi by Homan, Helen Walker
Lay Saints: Models of Family Life by Cruz, Joan Carroll

Check out these titles and more at Good News Book Shop!