light inside chest box

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.

Good Picture Books about Lent and Easter for Catholic Kids

Thinking about Easter yet? Or concentrating on participating in Lent to the fullest? Here are some wonderful books to assist all ages in entering into these seasons of penitence and rejoicing. You’ll find Lenten Picture Books, Stations of the Cross for kids Books, Palm Sunday Books, and Easter Books on this List.

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. Alternatively, you can buy many of these books through Bookshop instead on my list: https://bookshop.org/lists/good-picture-books-about-lent-and-easter-for-catholic-kids

Lenten Picture Books

Little Rose of Sharon is a poignant story which explores themes about true beauty and self-sacrifice. A vain little rose eventually chooses to give up all her beautiful petals to keep an egg warm, thus imitating the total self-sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

In this folktale retold, three trees dream about their future. Each tree finds its dreams achieved, but in a different way than they ever could have expected.The Tale of Three Trees is a lesson in divine providence and self-sacrifice.

There are many great versions of the Stations of the Cross for Children. Here is wonderful one for ages 5-10 from Word Among Us Press: Walking with Jesus to Calvary: Stations of the Cross for Children. For each station, there is a description that draws the child to imagine what being at the Passion might have been like, then a personal prayer to encourage the child to speak straight to Jesus.

Stations of the Cross for Kids combines Scripture, meditaiton, prayer, and stunning visuals to engage children. This may be my favorite Stations book yet.

This simple but lovely little Stations of the Cross for Children provides a short meditation and illustration for each station.


New in 2021, Raymond Arroyo’s The Thief Who Stole Heaven retells the story of the famous Good Thief, St. Dismas. Check out my full review here! To buy on Amazon, click The Thief Who Stole Heaven.

Palm Sunday

Little Colts Palm Sunday is the perfect story to read on Palm Sunday. The author fancifully imagines Palm Sunday through the eyes of the colt that carried Jesus into Jerusalem.

STORY EGG The Easter Colorful Nesting Toy with Resurrection Book – Great Christian or Catholic Gift for Children

Also perfect to begin on Palm Sunday, The Easter Story Egg is a book and nesting egg. Each day between Palm Sunday and Easter, your family opens an egg and reads the accompanying Bible verses and meditation. Difficult to find but a neat tradition.


Easter Picture Books

Looking for the Easter story as recounted in the Gospels? Fiona French’s beautiful book Easter may be the perfect fit. She uses colorful pictures inspired by stained glass windows to bring the Passion and Resurrection to life in a luminous way.

Rechenka’s Eggs is a charming story about giving, friendship, and how eggs are a sign of the miracle of new life. We love the beautiful Russian style illustrations.

The Story of Easter is a sweet little board book for the smallest children. It ties together spring, new life, and Jesus rising from the dead neatly. The emphasis is on the fact that Easter is really about Jesus loving us through his death and resurrection.

The Easter Cave tells the Easter story in a simple, rhythmic style inspired by “The House that Jack Built.”


In The Easter Swallows, children see the Passion and Resurrection through the eyes of two kind little swallows. Unfortunately out of print so you have to buy it used.


The Legend of the Easter Robin: An Easter Story of Compassion and Faith is a charming story about compassion and trusting God. A little girl learns to trust God through uncertainty as her Grandmother teaches her the legend of the Easter robin.

The Egg Tree is a lovely old story about special family Easter traditions across the generations.