Bella’s Birthday Books

Bella’s Birthday Books

The Song of the Three Holy Children by Pauline Baynes

This is my personal favorite of all the books I bought Bella for her birthday. I love Pauline Baynes—she did the original illustrations for the Chronicles of Narnia. I think she’s one of the top children’s book illustrators ever. And the fact that she did so many religious books makes me love her even more I’m just sad so many of her books are out of print. Her work draws on the tradition of illuminated manuscripts and yet has such an individual flavor. Oh it’s just lovely!

The text is one of my favorite canticles, the one prayed in Morning Prayer on Sunday Week I, which is also used for major feast, the octaves of Christmas and Easter. It’s from the Book of Daniel, the song sung by the three youths who were thrown into the fiery furnace. (It’s the one Ben currently joins in, saying “Bless the Lord,” whenever I pray it out loud.) All the children know it and so I thought Bella would love this book. And she does. The translation is, of course, a little different from the one in the Divine Office; but I don’t think Bella minds that too much.

This book is, sadly, out of print; but I found it used on Amazon for not too much. If you can find a copy, I definitely suggest picking it up.

In the Beginning by Pauline Baynes

Another beautiful Pauline Baynes book, this is the first chapter of Genesis. We’ve now got several versions of this passage. I suppose illustrators must love the chance to do full page spreads with lots and lots of plants and animals. Children also love looking at them. I rather like having lots of versions because I feel that way they won’t get just one image stuck in their heads as the “right” one.

A Saint and His Lion: The Story of Tekla of Ethiopia by Elaine Murray Stone

This is a nice little story about a saint I’d never heard of. I don’t know where I saw the original recommendation. Heavy on the haigiography, of course, emphasis on miracles; but that’s the stuff that draws children in. I loved how Tekla rides on the lion. It so reminded me of Susan and Lucy riding on Aslan’s back at the end of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Bella has requested it quite a few times in the past few days. It’s a very well told story, tightly constructed and beautifully illustrated with a definite Ethiopian flair. Multicultural in the good way that emphasizes the universality of the Church. And a good message about trusting in God, God providing a way for his work to be done even when our own best efforts fall short.

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander and illustrated by Bruce Whatley

An illustrated version of the hymn. It follows a girl as she goes about a day on the farm from putting on her boots in the morning, doing chores, feeding the animals, to singing with her family in the evening and ends with her in bed looking out the window. Beautiful pictures with lots of animals, sure to please the toddler set. Horses, birds, cats, dogs, ducks, etc.

100 Birds and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells, illustrated by Lauren Jarrett

We haven’t had a chance to read all the way through this one yet. The couple of entries I have dipped into were intriguing. As the name suggests, these are the stories of how various birds got their names. It’s got a bit of folklore, a bit of the history of ornithology, drops scientific names as well as various common names. Birds are from all over the world, some familiar backyard species, others exotic. Dom was reading part of it to Bella tonight and I heard something about Audobon observing birds and an explanation of why he shot them—no high speed cameras and high power binoculars to help make close observation. I’ll be honest this book is as much for me as for Bella. But I do know that my little birdwatcher will love it.



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  • Becky, You’re Megan’s mom, aren’t you? Thanks for stopping by and commenting! You should definitely take Teresa. She’ll love it. (I almost feel like I know her because Megan is always raving about her.)

    Cay, It wasn’t in the original plan; but I like the idea of making it a time that’s a gift for each child as well as a recharge for me. No reason it can’t be both!

    priest’s wife, You should! I know you were writing recently about not getting time for yourself.

  • Melanie, thank you for bringing back so many memories.  I used to take my younger daughter to daily Mass while my (then only) son was in preschool.  In the warm weather there was a “crying room”, but it wasn’t shut off – it just provided a place for quiet play.  In the winter, Mass moved downstairs to the basement, and I spent the time walking my daughter around the periphery behind some of those tall felt movable dividers.  I always felt more welcome than at daily Mass in my home parish.  Whenever someone caught sight of us in our travels, s/he gave me a wrinkled-faced smile.  I am glad you were welcome at your parish, too.

  • scotch meg,

    We’ve definitely been blessed by our pastors who love children—our current pastor was one of 12 himself. If there are any grumblers who would make us feel unwelcome, they aren’t supported by the priest and I think that makes a huge difference. (I feel so bad for my friends whose priests don’t support their bringing the little ones to Mass.) Certainly I’ve never noticed any hairy eyeballs; but I tend to keep my head down and my eyes to myself. And I sit in the front where any glares would be at my back. But mostly what I get are people coming up to me to say how well behaved my children are.

  • Rachel, I wish I remembered where I first read about “the Jesus is coming routine”. An article, a blog… anyway, I am so grateful to have it in my mothering toolbox. I haven’t been able to do it as consistently as I’d like as my family has grown beyond two children; but it does really engage the little ones. 

    Yes! I love the way toddlers are so joyful in church. And am so grateful for a welcoming community. (Though I sometimes wonder if they’d be so welcoming if my children were of a louder and more high-energy bent.

  • I do the same “Jesus is coming” routine!  My mom did it, and I’m carrying on the tradition now.

    I love the joy of a toddler in church.  I stopped in during adoration at my church the other week with my 2 year old.  She loudly said “Hi Jesus! Hi Mary! HI Jesus’s grandma!” and various other things.  I don’t think the few people in church minded the two minutes of our visit.  I love that about my parish too, for the most part children are welcomed and loved if they are loud or quiet.

    Well, except for one lady today.  But she was an exception!