I wrote briefly about this book when First Son read it three years ago (recommended by Mater Amabilis for Level 1A Year 2, third grade) but I didn't write a proper review. (I wrote more on Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls which is read in Level 1A Year 1). I recall the spring First Son read this book was a hectic and frazzled one for me and I often did not read the story at all.
This year, I am making a concerted effort to read everything before the children do (though not entirely succeeding), but I was inspired anew to thankfulness for such uplifting and inspiring stories for my children to read. These two books would be wonderful First Communion or Easter gifts. First Daughter read these easily independently in second and third grade, though some second graders may enjoy the stories more if they are able to listen rather than read themselves.
In Montague Runs Away, a young boy, inspired by a missionary sermon and dismayed when his guardian aunt tells him the gypsies are heathens, bravely (but foolishly) abandons his aunt and chases after the caravan to tell them of Jesus and his love for them. Surprisingly, a gypsy boy his own age confesses his desire to stay in the towns they visit to preach the love of God.
"You see, it's like this," he went on. "They know how there is a God, and they know how He gets angry if they do wrong. But they don't know what God's like one bit. They don't know how He loves funny things. Why, if you'd seen some of the little frogs and field mice and spiders that I've seen, you'd know God likes to laugh, or else He wouldn't make those things. Of course, He's serious, too, and He makes stars shine right down in the wells and the streams. And then there's the way He does things. I've seen the fields all the year round; I've seen 'em when the seed goes in and when it starts to come up, and when it's all shining like gold for the harvest." He stopped as if he felt he couldn't explain any more.Sadly, he admits he is unable to fulfill his dream because he hasn't had the opportunity to learn all the reading, writing, and Latin necessary to be a priest. His aunt, "always a surprising person," fetches Montague home but promises they will travel all summer with the circus, establishing a little school for them in which she will teach.
"Don't interrupt, please. You were naughty to run away, but I was naughty to think circus people are wicked just because they are circus people. So I'm going to forgive you, and God will forgive me."In The Donkey-Boy's Coat, the Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem is described incredibly joyfully.
And then, from all the hamlet around, just as if a secret message had come to them (as it comes to birds, telling them to rise in flocks and fly to sunny lands) children, crowds of them, came into sight. They were all running toward the gates of the city of Jerusalem. First, there were little groups of them; then big groups, as they joined up; then a great crowd. And as they ran, they leaped up and down and waved green branches gathered from the trees.Joey forgets himself and his ragged cloak in his joy, laying it under the feet of the donkey just as the other children do. It is transformed by the touch of the donkey's feet into a beautiful cloak, decorated with symbols of Jesus and his gifts to us.
There are many more wonderful stories, but I'll finish with one of my favorite quotes, found in The White Mouse's Story:
I have had only one real adventure in my life, and that was terrible. There were parts of it I did not understand, as I believe is the case even with you, when an adventure is worth having.I purchased this book years ago directly from the publisher, Sophia Institute Press. They have frequent sales and discounts, so follow them by email or facebook or whatever you fancy. The links above are to Amazon and are affiliate links. As an affiliate with Amazon, I receive a small commission if you follow one of my links, add something to your cart, and complete the purchase (in that order). Every little bit helps - thanks!