This series intrigued me from the outset for two reasons: (1) it is for middle readers (ages 7-10), which is exactly the age group that my son Henry is in now. So, these are chapter books, but written for kids that are newer to such books; (2) it involves actual encounters with saints via time travel. I mean...I am so jealous of this idea, it's fantastic!! :0
The Sign of the Carved Cross is book 2 in this series, the first being The Secret of the Shamrock and featuring St. Patrick. Here is the back cover description from the book we chose:
Katie joins her friends in being mean to the new girl, Lily. But suddenly, Katie becomes the new girl—in 1675! She has no idea how she traveled in time to a Native American village, but she’s hoping the young woman she meets will be nicer to her than Katie was to Lily. Tekakwitha is a quiet girl with scars on her face from a terrible disease. Tekakwitha’s family doesn’t accept her because of her faith, and soon she and Katie have to run away in the middle of the night. Will Katie ever find her way back home? Find out in The Sign of the Carved Cross.So, my impressions. In an totally expected development, given how much I loved the premise from the outset, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. :-) I like the different layers in the story: we have a contemporary piece at the beginning of the book, with Katie, her brother Patrick, and their daily lives at school and home. We identify with Katie, and empathize with her burgeoning desire to fit in with her group of friends, particularly her insecurities about the way she looks. We as the reader can see right away that Katie is jealous of Lily, the new girl, and how this causes her to behave in an uncharacteristically cold fashion. The faith aspect of the story is woven nicely into the intricacies of the plot. It's there in a way that kids can relate to, without it being heavy handed.
Then we move into the historical component, when Katie travels back in time, and one cannot help but fall in love with the future St. Kateri Tekakwitha. We feel anxious for Katie, who is so turned upside down by this unexpected journey, and her worries about getting home to her family. At the same time, however, we see the sweet and welcoming nature of Kateri, and slowly Katie comes to realize how her own unfriendly behavior must have caused a newcomer in a different time period to feel: Lily, back in her contemporary life. The book teaches an important life lesson through the story in a way that is poignant and exciting. The reader can also see how this realization, along with how reverently Kateri practices her Catholic faith despite the persecution she faces, have caused Katie to have a new understanding and appreciation for her own faith.
I absolutely loved the book, and have bought additional copies of the first two books in the series for other children in the targeted age range. Fantastic First Communion gifts, I would say. At $5.99 a book, the price cannot be beat! Lisa Hendey has two new titles in the series coming out in the spring (here and here), and they're available for preorder over at Amazon. These focus on Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi!
Has anyone else read these books with their kids? Either the St. Patrick title or this one? Do chime in with your thoughts!