Barbara Gowan, 2014

Each letter in the alphabet represents a facet of the Catholic faith.  A rhyme, text and sacred art illustration along with a prayer written by a child complete the page.  Following the alphabet letters is a section called Family Faith Formation with stories about our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and ideas on how families can grow their faith.  The book is interactive with places for photos, a family written prayer and even a child's drawing of heaven.  Beginning with "A is for Altar," Barbara Gowan skillfully and lovingly weaves vocabulary, facts, history, children's prayer and tenets of our Catholic faith within a familiar format that inspires the reader to anticipate with excitement the twenty-five letters that follow.  This Catholic alphabet book provides a beautiful means for children and parents to learn together about many aspects of the Catholic faith and tradition and opens a path to prayer and worship at home.

Reviewer: Dr. Sharon H. Pristash, Principal, Annunciation Catholic School, Cave Creek, AZ


Barbara Gowan, illustrated by Jane Pitz, 2008

With alphabet speed, children will learn a host of facts about the University as they turn the pages of this book.  Artist Jane Pitz has captured Notre Dame people, places and events in colorful illustrations.  Young readers will get a first-class preview of what awaits them when they visit Notre Dame.  They'll be all set for the real thing, as they take "the campus ABC tour," with book in hand.  What a delightful way to welcome one generation of Domers into another.

                        Sr. Jean Lenz, O.S.F., Special Assistant to Vice President for Student Affairs, Univesity of Notre Dame

It is important to inspire children at an early age to attain a good education.  I am sure your book will do just that.

                        Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., President Emeritus, University of Notre Dame

Your clever educational book will be a delight for parents and their children.  Thanks for your work in writing it.

                        Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame


Anne E. Neuberger, illustrated by Jeff West, 2013

This refreshing story of the much loved Saint Francis begins with an author's note to parents and teachers about this version of his story and the complexity of the life of Saint Francis.  Just like our equally loved Pope Francis, there is much more than simple faith in Saint Francis' story.  The author understands her audience: the story for a child and a faith-sharing experience with a teacher or parent as the story is read together.  Neuberger knows the importance of the bonds and communication Saint Francis shared with children and animals and highlights those in flowing language throughout the story.  She retells the story of Saint Fraincis acknowledging God's love to all the animals of the forest before entering the town of Alviano in the early evening to speak to the crowds in the square.  When the birds interrupt his speech, he admonishes them to listen to God's word, and the birds become quiet.  It is the perfect time for parents and teachers to talk about how much we can learn as we listen quietly to what God wants us to do.  Neuberger follows this story with one about a boy with a caged dove which Francis asks him to release so that she can join her nest showing how letting something go gives it a chance to grow and love.  The end of his story is as filled with joy as the rest of the story with Francis' spirit rising to his Creator.  Jeff West's digital illustrations are friendly, joyful and support the story's tone and message.  West has illustrated several books for Tau Publishing, a Catholic publisher whose books are all "Made in the USA."

Ages 4-8                                      Reviewer:  Debra LaPlante, Librarian, Ss. Simon & Jude Cathedral School, Phoenix, AZ

A sneak peak at books selected for you!


NOAH'S ARK  Jeff Campbell, Storyteller  Jeff West, Illustrator, 2010

In this classic story taken from Genesis 6,7,8, storyteller Jeff Campbell presents children with the knowledge of a just God who is disappointed in the people on earth, like a father is disappointed with the acts of his children.  The story is presented in a simple, direct way for children to understand how God chose Noah and his family to save the animals as God flooded the earth.  Jeff West's brightly colored digital illustrations enhance the details of the story and keep the child turning the pages.  Campbell points out the forty days of rain and flooding without invoking fear for the reader and emphasizes God's promise to never flood the earth again.  The hope for the future and knowledge of God's love for Noah will help any child understand both God's power and his love and forgiveness.  Children will love the illustrations and will read and re-read this faithful retelling of Noah's ark.  Tau Publishing is a Catholic publisher whose books are all printed in the United States.  Ages 4-8                       Reviewer:  Debra LaPlante, Librarian, Ss. Simon & Jude Cathedral School, Phoenix, AZ

PO Box 5674, Carefree, AZ  85377



Dr. Jennifer Grenardo, illustrated by Jeff West, 2013

Danny the Donkey, a distant relative to the animal that carried Mary to Bethlehem, narrates the story of how his family celebrates Advent.  From lighting purple and pink candles on a wreath to putting hay in the manger of their Nativity set, Danny and his siblings prepare for the coming of baby Jesus on Christmas Day.  "My family prepares our hearts for the season with traditions and crafts for Jesus, the reason."  Grandpa reads the Bible.  Grandma makes an angel.  Everyone in the family is involved in Advent activities.  Author Dr. Jennifer Grenardo and illustrator Jeff West team up in the creation of Danny Celebrates Advent published by Amor Deus Publishing.  Young children will delight in the simple rollicking rhymes and colorful animated illustrations as they learn about Catholic Advent traditions.  Four easy craft projects using paper plates, one for each week of Advent, will help your family celebrate this season.   ​                     Reviewer: Barbara Gowan, Learning With Little Folks

Catholic Kids Book Club



Debra LaPlante, 2014


Jeffrey Campbell, illustrated by Francesca Bianco, 2007

R IS FOR ROSARY - a catholic family alphabet

​Catholic families prepare for the miracle of Jesus' birth with displays of the Nativity scene, a manger with Mary, Joseph and animals. This story explains the beginning of that tradition - St. Francis of Assisi recreated a living manger in the small town of Greccio with live animals and a newborn baby in 1223. Families will enjoy sharing this story together throughout Advent as they prepare their nativity scene. Children will love the watercolor illustrations by Francesca Bianco showing how St. Francis and his friars followed a shining star from Assisi to Greccio. Jeff Campbell writes St. Francis always wanted others to know how wonderful it was that God shared his love for us through his son Jesus. St. Francis loved Christmas, not for the glitter and show, but to know how Jesus was born into poverty and hardship in a manger with animals nearby. There is a miracle in this story as well with Brother Leo struggling to find a newborn baby in the town. In the end, St. Francis speaks to Brother Leo about the power of believing and having faith for all things to be possible.


Jeff Campbell, Storyteller  Jeff West, Illustrator

In Called to Serve: The Loreto Sisters in Arizona, author Debra LaPlante recounts scenes from fifteen Loreto Sisters’childhood experiences and shares with readers how each found her calling to serve God. Originally from Ireland, a group of five Loreto Sisters were called in 1954 to serve at the then-newly built SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral School and parish in Phoenix, Arizona. The love that shines from the lives and work of Loreto nuns is still evident today. Sister Raphael who has served as the school’s principal for over forty years and Sister Thomas (a Loreto sister from Chicago) who still taught first-grade students at Saint Gregory’s school are among the nuns profiled in the book.

Each brief biography includes a current day photograph of the sister and one from her past, the date
she was christened, her birthday, motto, and feast day. Children will benefit from reading this book with their parents and teachers. The book includes a child-focused and young-reader friendly paragraph that offers a snippet from each sister’s childhood. From Sister Augustine who found joy as well as her calling while attending a boarding school with the Loreto Sisters to Sister Dympna who grew up with thirteen siblings and attended a public elementary school, young readers will learn there are many paths to a calling as a nun. In addition, the author expands on each vignette with more sophisticated and nuanced information about each sister’s calling that the adult can discuss with a child listener. 
Reviewed by: Dr. Judi Moreillon, Assistant Professor, Texas Woman’s University

This book is another in the Bible Storyteller Series by the team of Jeff Campbell as Storyteller and Jeff West.  The familiar story shares Jesus feeding the crowds by the miracle of multiplying a few pieces of bread and fish.  Mr. Campbell wants us to remember that Jesus cared for his followers, just as he cares for all of us.  Children will easily understand the message that joy comes from sharing what you have with others.  "Joy filled his heart over all that had just happened and the faith of the disciples grew even stronger."  We can learn from the example of Jesus that just as he thanked God for the food that was before him, families express thanks by saying grace at each meal that is shared.  Mr. West's illustrations combine real images of gulls with his computer generated digital images.  His previous work with Disney studios help give the illustrations a familiar feel for children reading the book.  The story is ideal for preschool through elementary children.  Older children can compare this version with Mark 8:1-10

Reviewed by Barbara Gowan and Debra LaPlante, founders of the Catholic Kids Book Club