Tag: saint

Saint Valentine | Robert Sabuda

It is still winter, right? I thought it was, but my two eldest daughters are playing outside as I write, one of them in naught but a fairy dress.

We were supposed to start our home school lessons an hour ago, but they’ve been out there since breakfast, bounding around the front yard chattering like happy, fluttery birds. At present, they’re sitting side by side under the one tree in our yard—a great, overgrown Christmas tree—holding sticks in front of their knees like fishing rods, heads together, deep in confidence.

Add to that the fact that Phoebe has been sound asleep in her crib for the last hour and you have all the necessary ingredients for an important decision: school can wait.

I’ll let them continue doing whatever it is they’re harmoniously doing and instead of reading Saint Valentine to them, I’ll share it with you. In my inaugural blog post, I sang the praises of the unsung holidays, the ones that we celebrate in sheer fun but whose origins we have collectively almost forgotten. I wrote about Saint Patrick’s Day then, but Valentine’s Day also fits the bill. For those of you dissatisfied with stale candy and heart-shaped doilies, who find yourselves hungry for a bit of history with your holiday—this book is for you!

Saint Valentine | Little Book, Big Story

Robert Sabuda’s telling of the life of Saint Valentine is tender and compelling. It gives children a glimpse of life as a Christian under persecution without overwhelming the sensitive souls (of which I have—and am—one), while telling the beautiful story of Saint Valentine and a little blind girl who came to him for healing.

I’ll warn you: this story doesn’t end happily, but it ends with hope, the sort of stinging hope that makes your throat feel funny. And Sabuda’s illustrations are breathtaking in their complexity: each illustration is a mosaic of (what I’m guessing is) paper, but with such simple tools he conveys rich emotion and movement.

Now, I’ve timed this post perfectly! The little fairy just traipsed in, pink in the cheeks and breathless with cold. That means it’s time to herd my little troop onto the couch and start reading.


Saint Valentine
Robert Sabuda (1999)

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland | Tomie dePaola

Pop quiz: in twenty words or less, why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

If your answer is full of elipses and mumbled words like “leprecans,” “Ireland” or “some dude named Patrick,” then you’re sitting in the same boat I was before I came across Patrick: the Patron Saint of Ireland.


A few months back, it occurred to me that a number of our holidays are based upon some fascinating figures in church history, figures with challenging and inspiring stories that have, for the most part, been overshadowed by frothy glasses of Guinness and conversation hearts. So when I gave some thought to how we would celebrate these holidays in our family, I found the answer right there on the calendar in front of me: St. Patrick. Who was that guy, anyway?

And that is where Tomie dePaola comes in.

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland | Little Book, Big Story

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland tells the story of Patrick’s life, neatly divided into biography—and one full of adventure, at that—and legend, as dePaola uses the latter pages of the book to detail the different legends surrounding the life of Patrick. It is, of course illustrated in dePaola’s unique style, and the pictures tell the story with as much punch and detail as the narrative.

This is a great book to read around St. Patrick’s Day, yes, but it makes for fascinating reading all year round, as it provides you with an opportunity to teach your little one about the saints that have gone before us.

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland | Little Book, Big Story


Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
Tomie de Paola (1994)