Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls by Caryll Houselander, illustrated by Renee George
This book is recommended by Mater Amabilis for Level 1A as Lenten reading in second grade (followed by More Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls as Lenten reading in third grade). We read two stories each week from this book followed by a very brief discussion. First Son (8) and First Daughter (5) adored the stories in this book. They always asked for more when I was done reading for the day (which I refused) and First Son has asked if he could read it to himself now that we are done (which I encouraged).
Each of the stories in the book tells of a child who learns what it means to follow Christ or loves so dearly that he or she shows the love of Christ to another. They are indeed written for those of the Catholic faith, with a reverence for the Eucharist at the heart of many of the stories. Unlike many books of short stories, I could not name one I did not enjoy. A few were absolutely wonderful.
In The Cure's Guest, a group of children tease and taunt a village priest because "there was only the government school, where the schoolmaster taught the children to laugh at their priest, and the children thought they were great and fine to do it." Every week, the priest invites the children to his home, purchasing special treats for them. They never go, but the priest doesn't act any differently toward them. One day, two girls sneak to his home to peek in the window at the appointed time and discover a miracle. The Cure "had always seen the children as if they were as generous and beautiful as God meant them to be." That's how we should always see children, not that we should ignore their faults, but that we should correct their faults gently and with Christ's ideal for them always in mind.
In If I Were You, a young boy prays in the church, "If I were You, Jesus...I would make everyone happy. I would make them rich, I would make the sun to shine on the harvest fields, and I would convert the whole world." Jesus answers, "But that...is your work, Louis!" Still, he gives Louis a crown and rich garments, then sends him out into the village. Louis is surprised by the fear and shame he faces, dressed as the Savior, until he approaches the woman who cleans the church. By this time he is achingly tired and famished.
[W]hen the old woman saw him, she opened her arms and folded him into them. For she had forgotten self. She had scrubbed the floor beside the Blessed Sacrament so often that she had forgotten everything but God's presence. She did not think of whether she was rich or poor, whether she was good or bad. She did not think whether the glory of God would bless or blind her. She opened her arms and folded him to her heart.
I am already eagerly anticipating Lent next year when we will read More Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls.
* I did not receive anything in exchange for this review. I purchased the book myself.