National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Have Yourself a Mary Little Summer

BY The Crawford sisters

July 6-12, 2008 Issue | Posted 7/1/08 at 11:36 AM


Once again the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are upon us. For many kids freed from school until September, that means more time around Mom. For God’s children of all ages, it can also mean special times devoted to the Mom of all Moms — Mary.

And why not? Mary gardens are in full bloom, the scent of roses is on the breeze and it’s the perfect time of year for praying the Rosary in the great outdoors, day or night. Here are some books that highlight the beauty of motherhood. A couple focus on our Blessed Mother, while the rest explore the bonds of love between earthly mothers and their children.

Hail Mary

written by Sabrina Bus

illustrated by Xavier Deneux

translated by Leslie Mathews

Eerdmans Books, 2006

12 pages, $8

This board book introduces preschoolers to the words and meaning of the special prayer we say to the Mother of God. Each page presents and explains a different phrase. For example, the author pairs “and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus” with “Jesus was your child, and yet he is God.” Throughout the simple text are connecting points with Jesus through Mary. (“With you, we want to learn to know him and love him.”) The cheerful illustrations show children praying in familiar settings — with friends, at church and at home. Ages 1 to 4.

My First Book about Mary

written by Christine Virginia Orfeo, FSP

illustrated by Julia Mary Darrenkamp, FSP

Pauline, 2007

64 pages, $7.95

The story of our Blessed Mother begins with God’s promise to send a Savior — One who will be born to a young Jewish woman. This comprehensive biography for children traces Mary’s life from her birth to Ann and Joachim to her being crowned Queen of Heaven. The story does not, however, end there. A special section, “Mary Comes to Visit,” describes the apparitions of Mary to Juan Diego (Our Lady of Guadalupe), Bernadette Soubirous (Our Lady of Lourdes), Lucy, Jacinta and Francis (Our Lady of Fatima) and others. Instructions for praying the Rosary round out this beautifully illustrated book. Ages 8 to 12.

Before I Was Your Mother

written by Kathryn Lasky

illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Harcourt, 2003

32 pages, $16

A mom reminds her daughter Katie that she was once a little girl much like her — a girl who roller-skated, played with her dog, tap-danced, and thought her own mother was magical because she could suspend fruit in Jell-O. Best of all, Katie’s mom remembers long ago of “dreaming of having her own little girl to love.” Ages 4 to 8.

I Love You More

written by Laura Duksta

illustrated by Karen Keesler

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2007

34 pages, $16.99

Two stories in one, this flip book begins at either side and ends in the middle. A mom and her small son walk together when one asks, “Just how much do you love me?” Each recounts separately the depth of her or his love. “I love you deeper than the deepest fish ever swam / “I love you stronger than the strongest big river dam” are just a few of the declarations of love made between mom and son. Large, colorful child-like illustrations. Ages 4 to 8.

On Mother’s Lap

written by Ann Herbert Scott

illustrated by Glo Coalson

Clarion, 1992

32 pages, $6.95

Michael loves to climb aboard Mother’s lap. Soon he goes to find his toy boat, a doll, his reindeer blanket and, finally, the family puppy so they can all cuddle together on Mother’s lap. All goes well until his baby sister cries. When Mother suggests that the baby would like to cuddle too, Michael is sure that there’s no room. But, somehow there’s a special place for all of them — on Mother’s lap and close to her heart. Though set in a chilly Eskimo village, this story conveys a warm and important message for little ones: Just like there is always room for one more in Mother’s lap, there is always room for one more in the family. Ages 4 to 8.

The Most Thankful Thing

written by Lisa McCourt

illustrated by Cyd Moore

Cartwheel, 2004

32 pages, $15.95

A young girl catches her mother deep in thought. “I’m giving thanks,” Mama explains, “for all the good things in my life.” The daughter asks, “What are you the very most thankful for?” Mama tells her daughter to guess. Grabbing her mother’s scrapbook, she searches through the snapshots for a clue. It must be when you went to camp, the daughter says. Nope! Dancing at your prom? Starting your first job? Marrying Daddy? No, no, no, says Mama. “Just when I thought I couldn’t be any happier, I held you for the first time,” Mama says, revealing that her “most thankful thing” was, in fact, her daughter. Ages 4 to 8.

I Love You Because You’re You

written by Liza Baker

illustrated by David McPhail

Cartwheel, 2001

24 pages, $8.99

Mother Fox recounts all the times that she loves her little cub. She loves him when he’s happy, sleepy, silly or frightened. She loves him when he’s sick, sad, frisky or playful. (She loves him all the time.)

Rhyming couplets brim with the reassuring message that kids need to hear: “I love you any way you feel,/ no matter what you do./ I love you any way you are./ I love you because you’re you!” Ages 3 to 6.

The Crawford sisters

write from Pittsburgh.