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The Boston Women’s Conference and Some Board Book Reviews

The Boston Women’s Conference and Some Board Book Reviews

Today, after Mass, we all headed off to the Boston Women’s Conference. Both yesterday and today Dom needed to attend the Men’s and Women’s Conferences as a part of a project for work. I thought it would be fun to accompany him and perhaps catch a bit of some of the talks—very realistic in my expectations of exactly how much I would be able to catch with both girls in tow.

A good thing I knew what I was getting into. That’s all I did catch, parts of two talks, semi-distracted by Bella and Sophie exploring, running and crawling, around the back of the auditorium. But in between I had some nice chats with various vendors and exhibitors, especially with many priests and religious who were there. Bella, who hooked up with her very good friend, Dom’s co-worker Anna, had fun doing a version of trick-or-treating around all the tables, picking up candy, holy cards, pens, rosaries, and other trinkets from the various people who were very charmed by her winning manner.

Especially nice among the various encounters of the day was meeting author, photographer and mother Heidi Bratton and her family, who live in the Fall River Diocese of Massachusetts. I bought four of her beautiful board books for the girls but not before having an extensive conversation with Heidi and the whole family. Her children and husband were charming to chat with and the children delighted in pointing to each of the books saying, “She’s the little girl in those pictures,” and, “He’s the baby in this one,” and “This one is me.”

All of the books feature beautiful black and white photography that really won my heart. As with the best picture books, these are as enjoyable for me to read and look at as they are for the children. I was initially resolved to limit myself to one book but just couldn’t do it. The more I looked the harder it was to narrow my choice.

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My favorite of the books was The Little Shepherd, pictures by Heidi Bratton text by Sally Anne Conan. A retelling in black and white photographs of the parable of the Good Shepherd. It opens with a photo of an ewe nuzzling a lamb and then follows a little boy with a shepherd’s crook searching for a little girl who carries a stuffed lamb. The text is simple and charming and the pictures captivating. I especially liked that the book followed a hide-and-seek formula having the shepherd look for the sheep “over” and “under,” “up” and “down.”

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Count Your Blessings pictures by Heidi Bratton text by Sally Anne Conan. This is, as the title suggests, a counting book that goes from 1 (Splashy Puddles) to 10 (Loving You). Little ones will love the simple rhymes and pictures of children and babies. My favorite photos were of a grandmother reading to two little boys (Cozy Places), a girl examining a butterfly-festooned Easter basket (Pretty Wings), a little girl kneeling to pray beside a bed covered with stuffed animals (Snuggly Toys), and a beautiful child’s Nativity set (Someone New).

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Spirit! by Heidi Bratton. Beautiful black and white photos of children with one word captions: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Gentleness, Self-control, Spirit. Perfectly matched pictures and text makes this a very meditative book for adults as well. The sort of pictures I often asked my students to use as writing prompts when I taught composition.

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Little Ways to Give God Praise pictures by Heidi Bratton text by Sally Anne Conan. Rhyming text that expresses a child’s spirituality, very reminiscent of the Little Way of St. Therese. Children praise God by clapping, dancing, singing, running, with others and alone, at church and at home, reading books and helping their parents. Mostly, by being themselves, childlike. A good meditation for moms and dads as well.

Heidi Bratton’s books are available from Paulist Press and from Amazon: Heidi Bratton Books.
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