Saints and Heroes by Ethel Pochocki with illustrations by Mary Beth Owens
I am not surprised I loved this book. It follows very much in style and substance Once Upon a Time Saints and More Once Upon a Time Saints, only written for older, independent readers. It reads very much as if the author were settled down next to the reader with a meaningful story to share.
There are many saints children will find familiar in this book: St. Juan Diego, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Katharine Drexel and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (who deserves to become familiar with young children and will become a saint this October; First Daughter is already planning a celebration for teh occasion). Alongside these are figures less well-known, at least here in America, like Archbishop Oscar Romero, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford, and Maura Clarke, all martyred in El Salvador in 1980. My favorite story was that of St. Josephine Bakhita, a greatly inspiring saint who suffered as a slave and found freedom in Christ and His Church.
I also appreciated the comforting stories of St. Maximilian Kolbe and the Holy Innocents of 9/11/2001. In these pages, Ms. Pockocki tackles horrible events of the modern world with grace and compassion. I intend to read the 9/11 story with First Son when we discuss that day in American History this year (in third grade) and will likely share the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe when we read about the concentration camps of World War II next year, in fourth grade.
I think First Son could read this book now as far as the reading level goes, but I would be cautious about sharing it with him given the examples of modern day martyrdom. I would be willing for him to hear the stories, but am not sure I want him reading them alone just yet and I'm not anxious to read them aloud to the girls just yet. (This is likely a barrier in my own mind, but I'm hesitant to share modern martyr stories with them when they are so young, though we have read many stories of martyrs in the more distant past and have discussed how some people are still persecuted in modern times.)
I've linked to the book on Amazon above, but I purchased it directly from Bethlehem Books. I did not receive anything in exchange for this review and will not receive anything if you make a purchase from Bethlehem Books. I am an affiliate with Amazon.