Today I want to tell you about the new children's book from Ancient Faith, In the Candle's Glow. I have a love/hate relationship with children's literature. Often is is sappy and trite and has conflicting ideas. I am one of the few parents out there who have literally thrown away a copy of The Rainbow Fish and not looked back. I think that proper children's books should be beautiful and thought provoking and well written. That doesn't mean I think that I think they need to talk over the heads of the children that they address but rather that they respect the developing person they are fast becoming without rushing it. It is a pretty tall order, I admit. But there are some books that so perfectly fit my rigid ideal of a book that they become fast favorites around here; ones that will stand the test of time and ones which I will not dread seeing my children pull off the shelf every night for eighty-seven in a row. This is one such book.
I have a great job. I get to think words and write them down and get paid for it. Because I have sold some of the words I have written down, it gives me the brilliant opportunity to read other words other people have written down. Sometimes books come in the mail and I get to read them solely because I have written words of my own. This is fantastic. Now, I don't get free copies of all the books that I want, but this was a free review copy given to me. I literally jumped at the chance because it is published by my publisher and I had the chance to see some of the art before the book was released. I knew as soon as I saw the cover, that I wanted that this book. I don't get a kick back and I am not being paid for my review. What I get is a free copy of the book to drool over.
French artist Amandine Wanert produced the gorgeous images in this book and there are really two present styles of art. There are bright, light, outdoor scenes of a charming nun, of bees flying through meadows, and of honeycomb caps. They are brightly colored without being gaudy, light without lacking substance. Then there are the richer scenes within the church. They are dark without being heavy, and serious without being severe, and so evocative. Before I knew what the book was about, the art drew me in, and it did the same for my children the day that it arrived. I watched as all my children squeezed onto the sofa to watch as one of the younger teens flipped through the book.
But the book isn't just a pretty face, Elizabeth Crispina Johnson has created an edifying and evocative story which unfolds page by page. The story is about both the journey of a candle and of a little girl. The story begins with the journey of the candle from the bees, to the hive, to the wax, to the nun who produced the candles the church. The little girl moves from playing outside to entering the church and lighting the candle to say her prayers. In the story, Felicia watches her prayers swirl around the candle's flame. She says more prayers and watches more prayers swirl around. Ultimately a slight breeze blows in from the window and extinguishes her candle and she says, "Amen," At that moment her prayers float up to Heaven with the tiny wisp of smoke. The book shows the prayers floating up to the icon of Christ the Teacher. It is so sweet and so innocent and such a pleasure to read to children.
This will be an excellent teaching tool for my family. I have a lot of children and I have found that lighting candles is a thrilling experience for them but teaching them that they are prayers is a critical aspect of participating in the services. Often my children need to be prompted and asked directly for whom or what they want to pray when they ask to light candles. We spend twenty dollars every weekend on candles (between Vigil and Liturgy) and I am pretty certain that many of those candles are lit by my four youngest, all girls, who simply want to stare at the glow in the darkness. I plan on reading this on Fridays and then packing it up for church for the littlest of my children. Toddlers and preschoolers, and sometime those slightly older, have a difficult time sitting still. They often need little books and things and I keep a church basket with saints books and other books appropriate for church as well as scarves for the girls and our family's commemoration book. Another item I keep in the basket is A Child's Guide to the Divine Liturgy. It features illustrations which help my non-readers know what is happening and understand the service structure along with brief explanations that are not so verbose that it keeps little heads turned downwards towards to the book rather than upwards at the service.
In the Candle's Glow is available from Ancient Faith HERE as well as other major retailers and perhaps even your own church book shop (if not, ask for it). It retails for $19.95. A Child's Guide to the Divine Liturgy is available HERE and if it's not in your church shop, ask for it. It also retails for $19.95. I received the former as a free review copy but the latter I paid for myself and I have two copies in my church basket.
I am going to be talking about the books in church basket as well as the icon corner basket in my house, that is basket that I keep under the table in icon corner so that my children can read them at quiet times. If you Insta, and I love Insta, drop by and see photos of my kids reading these and other great books. You can find me HERE. If you don't Insta, you can scroll through all my photos from my blog without leaving the site. You can read all posts with reviews by clicking HERE.
What do you keep in your church basket?
What are your favorite books for your children?