Review of “Our Lady’s Wardrobe”

Cover "Our Lady's Wardrobe" Sophia Press

Looking for a book for the Easter Basket? Anthony DeStefano’s newest book has just released from Sophia Institute Press and it’s simply gorgeous! This beautiful book provides a simple introduction to a variety of Marian apparitions in a novel way. Our Lady’s Wardrobe familiarizes young children with Marian apparitions by focusing on the many beautiful costumes Mary has worn when she appeared on earth.

Amazing Illustrations

Can I say again the illustrations in this book are wonderful? Juliana Kolesova’s light-filled style perfectly suits this book about the Queen of Heaven. Each page glows with an other-worldly luminescence that draws the reader upwards, like a Gothic church. My little girls can’t decide on which costume they like best: Fatima, Lourdes, Knock, or Guadalupe. Check out a full preview of Our Lady’s Wardrobe on Sophia Institute Press to see these beautiful images in full.

Simple Poetry for Retention

DeStefano uses rhyming verse to tell this story. The simple verse style reflects the atmosphere of simplicity and comfort in this story about how Mary loves and visits her children on earth. The rhyming verses also help children remember the various apparitions: Carmel, Knock, Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, the Miraculous Medal, and more.

Mary Leads us to Jesus

DeStefano takes a thoughtful approach in this children’s introduction to Mary, being careful to begin with stating the Catholic position on Mary. He begins the book with explaining Mary’s importance in the context of God’s plan and role in leading us to Jesus.

“Our Lady leads us to the Lord, that’s what she’s always done.

She gave us Jesus Christ the King, God’s one and only Son.”

DeStefano also wisely focuses on the Marian apparitions which have been judged “worthy of belief and public veneration” by the Holy See, the highest approval a Marian apparition can receive.

Contrasting Heaven and Earth

DeStefano usually weaves some intricate themes into his children’s books, and Our Lady’s Wardrobe is no exception. I loved the subtle contrasting he uses between heaven and earth. On earth, Mary had simple clothes and was poor. In heaven, she is queen with a gorgeous wardrobe. This contrast is a great reflection of Jesus’s teachings in the Beatitudes. Mary’s life on earth surely exemplifies the Beatitudes, and in heaven she receives the rewards promised.

A Great Marian Book for the Family Library

Catholic parents can feel confident that this lovely picture book provides an orthodox, yet uniquely memorable, introduction to Mary. It’s a perfect way to help little children build a personal connection and familiarity with our Mother in Heaven. I think two to seven year olds will most enjoy Our Lady’s Wardrobe. This book is so beautiful it also makes a great gift for a sacrament or birthday!

For more great books for Catholic kids, check out my book lists!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Our Lady’s Wardrobe from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Review of “A Lenten Journey with Mother Mary”

Book cover of "A Lenten Journey with Mother Mary"

Looking for a daily Lenten Meditation? A way to grow closer to Mary and Jesus this Lent? Check out Lenten Journey with Mother Mary by Fr. Edward Looney, a brand new book from Sophia Institute Press. Whether you’re new to Marian devotion or already pray the rosary every day, this book will help enrich your relationship with Mary and Jesus.

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A Meditation a Day

Lenten Journey with Mother Mary has a meditation for every single day of Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday! As an additional bonus, Fr. Looney continues the devotions through the Easter Octave to Divine Mercy Sunday! Each day’s devotion begins on a very personal note with a direct quote from Our Lady, such as: “Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.” These quotes are drawn from a variety of approved Marian apparitions and set the theme for the day. The devotion then continues with a 2-3 page meditation, a sentence-long prayer, and a suggestion for a Lenten action.

Theme of the Week

Each week has a broad theme under which the individual days fall. Themes include intentional prayer, praying for others, healing, and examination of conscience. I particularly enjoyed the meditations during the Easter Octave, which focus on faith and trust in Divine Providence.

A Lenten Journey

The title about journeying is very appropriate for this book, which certainly leads you on a journey to deepen your relationship with Mary. By increasing your Marian knowledge and deepening your prayer life, this book leads you closer to Jesus through Mary. The heart-warming takeaway message in this Lenten devotional is: Mary prays for you. Mary loves you.

Want to learn more? See a full preview of Lenten Journey with Mother Mary on the publisher page.

Have children? Check out my list of favorite picture books to prepare for Lent and Easter!

I received a free copy of “Lenten Journey with Mother Mary” from Sophia Institute Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

"Lenten Journey with Mother Mary" cover

Good Catholic Books for Catholic Teens

My post Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergarteners  is one of the most searched and read on this site, so today I was inspired to write a similar post aimed at Catholic teens. If you are looking for confirmation gift ideas or just good books about the Catholic faith, inspiring saints, and captivating conversions to add to your library, here is the list for you.

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Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints is a collection of short stories about young saints which will inspire teens to seek holiness with passion and purpose.


Notoriously mercurial teenagers will definitely benefit from The Emotions God Gave You: A Guide for Catholics to Healthy and Holy Living by Art Bennet, author of The Temperament God Gave You. This book will lead your teenager to begin to understand and control their emotions.


Boys will particularly enjoy A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of Saint Camillus de Lellis . Saint Camillus struggled greatly against a tendency towards the vices of gambling, drinking, and brawling. His conversion is an inspiring testimony to the power of God’s grace.

For older teens, Louis de Wohl’s biographies of saints are great inspirational reading. He does a fine job of portraying the saints as fallible human persons who achieved sainthood by responding to God’s call in their lives. A note of warning: Louis de Wohl’s books do contain occasional mild sexual content, so I recommend them for older teens only at parental discretion.


George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic is a fascinating tour of important historical Catholic sites, combining architecture, history, and faith into a seamless, captivating series of letters.


Jason and Crystalina Evert’s books Pure Manhood and Pure Womanhood are fantastic, short and sweet answers to questions teenagers have about dating and sex.

All Things Girl: Truth for Teens is a spectacular gift for a Catholic teenage girl! This book offers chapters on everything from modesty and fashion to social media and peer pressure. An awesome resource for Catholic moms as a discussion starter also.

Youcat by Cardinal Schonborn was designed with the input of high schoolers on the design team to create a visually appealing version of the Catechism to appeal to a teenage audience. If your teenager wants color images and is turned off by the weight of the full Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition, then this would make a great Confirmation gift.


I AM_ by Chris Stefanick is an awesome book to give a teenager or young adult. Stefanick leads the reader to recognize that they are beautiful, courageous, strong, fearless, precious, and lovable. This is a message teenagers desperately need to hear. Each word has a short anecdote and meditation or prayer. Chris Stefanick writes in a very simple, conversational tone that will easily appeal to teenagers, even those with a short attention span!

Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly explains how to break past our own procrastination and laziness and choose the happiness we all desire deep in our hearts.

For the more thoughtful teen looking to deepen their spirituality, 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration by Fr. Gaitley is a perfect at-home retreat.

Looking for a visually arresting book for a teenager who is resistant to reading a typical lives of the saints? Check out my review of Review of “The Saints Chronicles, Collection 1”.

The Truth Is Out There is the first volume of a wonderful new comic book style Apologetics series. This action-packed sci fi series melds interplanetary travel with spirited arguments about the important questions in life: does God exist, why is the Catholic church the one true church, what happens we die, and so many more!

Fr. Gereon Goldman tells his own incredible story of life as a German soldier, becoming a priest secretly, and the miracles that he has experienced in his life. A moving and exciting account of Divine Providence at work.

Parent Warning: plot includes a Nazi plan to seduce seminarians by forcing them to live in households with beautiful young women. No explicit content.

The Song at the Scaffold follows 16 Carmelite nuns as they face the guillotine during the French revolution. An inspiring story based on true events.

The Robe by Lloyd Douglas is the fascinating story of a Roman centurion whose life is changed forever when he acquires Christ’s robe.

For more ideas of great books for Catholic teenagers, check out some of my other book lists such as:

Good Christmas Books for Catholic Kids

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Advent is nearly upon us!  As we turn our thoughts to preparing for this blessed season, here is a merry miscellany of Christmas books to encourage the true spirit of Christmas in your home.  I hope you enjoy reading these beautifully illustrated versions of the Christmas story, stories about popular saints, Advent-calendar style Christmas collections, and stories about the origins of various Christmas symbols and traditions.  With a story here for everyone from the very young to those only young at heart, these books are also great to give as gifts!

Board books for the very young:

Who is Coming to Our House? has a gentle, rhythmic text which details the animals preparing their barn for Christ’s coming.

The Story of Christmas is a simple retelling of the Christmas story which I particularly like because of its emphasis on Jesus’ birthday as the reason for Christmas and a short explanation of why we give gifts at Christmas: “to show our love.”

Christmas in the Manger is a very simple rhyming version of the Christmas story.

Picture books for young and old:
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale is a whimsical story about a baker who learns that sometimes a dozen is really 13, thanks to St. Nicholas’ intervention. This book is perfect for reading on St. Nicholas’ Day prior to decorating gingerbread St. Nicholas cookies!

Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins is my favorite version of the true story of St. Nicholas. This book’s iconography is a fitting visual companion to the story’s focus on Nicholas’ desire to be an icon of Christ, imitating his Lord in word and deed.

The Cobweb Curtain: A Christmas Story is a unique Christmas story about a tiny spider who helps save the Christ Child from Herod’s soldiers. The theme of the littlest helping and a fun connection to tinsel make this one worth buying.

The Legend of the Candy Cane: The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy is another fun explanation of a favorite Christmas tradition: candy canes. Very young children can understand this simple story with its explanation of the Christian symbolism of candy canes.

The Legend of the Poinsettia is another story to explain a Christmas symbol. This legend offers one explanation of the pointsettia: how little Lucida’s selfless, humble gift of weeds to the Christ Child is miraculously transformed to bright red star flowers.

All for the Newborn Baby is a sweet lullaby sung by the Blessed Virgin to Jesus, describing how all of nature is rejoicing at His coming.

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger is a favorite of mine. This adorable, wee little mouse named Mortimer hears the Christmas story read and decides to give up his bed for the baby Jesus in the family nativity scene.

The Nativity combines the Nativity story from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke with beautiful, illuminated manuscript style illustrations.

Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing uses the story of a little boy who makes his own infant Jesus statue to introduce your child to an Italian tradition in which the Pope offers a special blessing on the third Sunday of advent to all the infant Jesus figures in St. Peter’s Square.

Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing

Little Star is the story of how only the humblest, small star can see past the newborn king’s humble surroundings and recognize his kingship.

The Christmas Candle is a fanciful take on what might happen if a candle gave one Christ’s eyes, and made one see each stranger as a loved family member.

The Christmas Candle

 

Mary, Did You Know?: The Story of God’s Great Plan takes a fresh look at this favorite Christmas carol, offering Scripture verses and interpretive pictures to accompany the verses.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is a story of how a small boy and his mother’s kindness helps a “scrooge” to recover and bring about a Christmas miracle.

Jacob’s Gift is a Max Lucado story about a young carpenter’s apprentice who learns to see Christ in those he meets.

The Christmas Horse and the Three Wise Men is a wonderful imaginative story about three animals, a horse, an elephant, and a camel who must work together using their unique skills to bring the Wise Men to the infant Jesus.

The Three Gifts of Christmas with Audio CD is a wonderful look at how a spoiled princess is guided by her wise parents to learn lessons about selflessness, sympathy, and the joy of giving.

The Crippled Lamb is a touching story about God’s special plan for even the littlest and weakest creatures.

Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers is the Christmas story retold from an angel’s perspective with beautiful, light-filled illustrations.

The Donkey’s Dream chronicles the dreams the donkey who carried a pregnant Mary dreamed, while exploring some of Mary’s titles. Beautiful illustrations again!

Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree is a powerful story which stars Saint Boniface smiting down the oak tree the pagans worship, and explains the miraculous origins of the linking of evergreen trees with Christ’s birth.

Lucia, Saint of Light is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the legend of Saint Lucia and how her feast is celebrated in Sweden.

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale is a simple Christmas story young children will love about the kind animals making room for smaller and smaller animals, and eventually the Christ Child.

Legend of the Christmas Stocking is a feel-good inspiration story of a young boy who chooses to use his hard-earned savings to bring joy to poor children at Christmas.

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus’ Birth is a beautifully illustrated story about young Jack learning from his gentle mother the true meaning of Christmas as they bake Christmas cookies to give to the poor.

The Last Straw is the story of Hoshmakaka the camel (kids love this story just for that name) who must learn humility to see the Christ Child.

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona is Tomie de Paola’s beloved story of a village coming together to make Christmas special for an old woman.

Who Was Born This Special Day? is a very simple story for preschoolers as the animals determine by process of elimination that it is the Christ Child who was born on Christmas day.

Christmas from Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber is an inspiring true story about a World War II Pilot who dropped candy to the German children as a sign of hope and good will.

Saint Francis and the Nativity offers a possible explanation of how the tradition of Nativity scenes came to be: through the collaboration of Saint Francis of Assisi and a simple shepherd boy.

The Miracle of St. Nicholas is the story of a miraculous Christmas in war-torn Russia brought about by the faith of a small boy, the intercession of St. Nicholas, and a community coming together.

The Tiny Star: The Greatest Star the World Has Ever Seen! can be enjoyed by even very young children, who will love its message that even the littlest can have an important task.

Apple Tree Christmas is a charming story about a family who lives above a barn and practices the true spirit of Christmas.

Stations of the Nativity is a series of meditations on fourteen events leading up to the birth of Christ. Complete with reflections and prayers, this can be prayed similar to the Stations of the Cross.

The Trees Kneel at Christmas is a beautiful, humorous story of two Lebanese immigrant children who hope to see the miracle of the trees kneeling that their Grandmother told them happened in Lebanon.

Destination: Bethlehem is an advent book with twenty four chapters, one to read each evening in December, as you accompany the characters through Palestine on a journey to Bethlehem, meeting many Bible characters along the way. Perfect for a family read-aloud!

The Story Of The Other Wise Man is for an older reader. This beloved story by Henry Van Dyke is about a fourth wise man who never does get to see baby Jesus, but instead beautifully illustrates the Bible message of seeing and serving Christ in those one meets on one’s journey.

Waiting for Christmas: Stories and Activities for Advent is a specifically Catholic resource focused on various ways of celebrating Advent: stories, songs, poems, and activities.

24 Christmas Stories to Welcome Jesus is, as the name implies, a story a day until Christmas collection. The stories range from the various gospel accounts of the Nativity to Christmas stories and traditions from around the world.

Why the Chimes Rang and Other Stories are old stories from the beginning of the twentieth century which illustrate the true spirit of Christmas.

Why the Chimes Rang: A Christmas Classic

 

Kersti and Saint Nicholas is by Hilda Van Stockum, one of my very favorite children’s authors, and therefore simply a joy to read. Four-year-old Kersti knows she falls into the naughty category, but her appeal to the good bishop on behalf of all the little ones who struggle to be good is a wonderful illustration of mercy versus strict judgment.

Kersti and Saint Nicholas

 

The Gift of the Magi is a famous O. Henry short story about sacrifice, true love, and the true meaning of Christmas.

Good Catholic Books for Catholic Preschoolers and Kindergartners 

Looking to incorporate more specifically Catholic books into your preschoolers and kindergartners’ reading? Here are some of my favorite books for gently introducing the basics of the Catholic faith to our children.

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For an introduction to the Bible, I like to use Maite Roche’s The Beautiful Story of the Bible. It is a greatly abbreviated and shortened picture Bible which covers some of the major Old Testament stories and the major events of Jesus’ life.

I also use The Illustrated Gospel for Children to provide a more detailed account of the Gospel story. My kids are always enthralled by the comic strip style illustrations, which are tastefully executed.

For general Catholic faith formation with 3-4 year olds, I use Little Acts of Grace. For an introduction to the Ten Commandments, I use Living the 10 Commandments for Children from the same author, which has great practical examples for little children.

For an introduction to Mary and Marian devotions, we read Just Like Mary. I also love reading Take It to the Queen: A Tale of Hope by Josephine Nobisso as an opening to discuss how Mary intercedes for us to God.

Our Lady’s Wardrobe is a beautiful new book that introduces little children to Mary’s love and her many appearances to her earthly children. Full review here!

For praying the rosary with preschoolers, I find it helpful to use a book with illustrations for each mystery they can examine, and meditations to read if you can with their attention span. Praying the Rosary with Mary is by a contemporary Italian artist and works well. If you prefer more classical art like I do, then try The Rosary in Art for Children, which is written in the first person as from Mary to the child.

My three year old actually asks to pray the Stations of the Cross thanks to this simplified version. Stations of the Cross for Children has the traditional antiphon, then a short kid-friendly meditation on the station with a picture to look at.

We read The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith  by Josephine Nobisso to introduce our children to the importance of the Mass. The baker in the story is awakened to the value of a Mass when all the goods in his shop prove to weigh less than a scrap of paper with “1 Mass” scribbled on it.

For more formal instruction about the Mass, and for learning the basic traditional Catholic prayers, we read Manners in God’s House: First Prayers and First Missal. This is a great book for a preschooler to take to church, with illustrations to help them follow along.

For a more modern Novus Ordo style Mass book, My First Interactive Mass Book for Catholic Kids is a good choice. There are a few interactive pages to help the child follow along.

For a kindergarten introduction to the saints, I like Ethel Pochocki’s Once upon a Time Saints. These are stories of less famous saints told in a fairy tale style which interests preschoolers. The lesson to be learned is that the saints were real people with real feelings, just like us.

Another good introduction to the lives of the saints, Saints for Boys: A First Book for Little Catholic Boys and Saints for Girls: A First Book for Little Catholic Girls are beautiful, hard cover books that make great gifts and are a favorite with my five year old. They include short, simple stories and illustrations of the lives of famous saints such as St. Elizabeth of Hungry and St. Dominic Savio.

For a saint book for even preschoolers, Girl Saints for Little Ones and Boy Saints for Little Ones offer wonderful, short introductions to famous saints complete with a quote, beautiful picture, and symbol for each saint. Check out my full review here!

I love the concept of Day-by-Day Coloring Book of Saints! There’s a one page story about the saint of the day and a coloring page. Great for engaging young ones! Full review here.

We also loved Saintly Rhymes for Modern Times, a creative rhyming book that features modern saints such as Maximilian Kolbe, John Paul II, Chiara Badano, and Gianna Molla.

Honorable mention for books about saints should be given to Fr. Lovasik’s series. Picture Book of Saints and its sequels provide biographies and pictures of a large number of saints. Fr. Lovasik also has short paperback books on the rosary, Mass, and many other topics.

For general character formation, Devotional Stories for Little Folks from Catholic Heritage Curricula is wonderful. This book is a collection of short stories with lessons featuring a modern day family, the Peterson’s. There are even discussion questions included! Also check out the sequel, Devotional Stories for Little Folks Too. Cheapest to buy these directly from the publisher.

Aquinas Kids Little Books for Catholic Kids Box Set is an adorable little set of board books with simple text explaining topics like the spiritual works of mercy, corporal works of mercy, angels, and so on.

What Can I Give God?, Will You Bless Me?, and Can God See Me in the Dark? are three charming Catholic books by Neil Lozano which answer common children’s questions about God through simple retellings of parts of the Gospels. The sense of love and closeness emanating from the family in the stories is like a warm blanket wrapping around you and your child as you read.

The Seed Who Was Afraid to Be Planted is a parable retelling that has quickly become a family favorite. Full review here! We also enjoy Anthony DeStefano’s other parable re-tellings such as The Sheep That No One Could Find.

Before I Was Me is the story of a baby discussing his purpose in life with God, who guides the little one to see his own importance.

Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman is the perfect book to nourish a love for unborn babies in your child. This is a sweet story about an unborn baby’s experience in the womb and chats with its guardian angel.