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  • Writer's pictureFaith Hakesley

Christmas Stories that will Grow with Your Children

Reviews of Anthony DeStefano’s two latest children’s books

+JMJ+ I have two more children’s books to share with you all this week but first I want to take a moment to say thank you. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I am calling to mind my blessings. You are definitely among them! Thank you for being here! I may not have the largest following, the most glamorous blog or social media pages, but I am so grateful for every single like, follow, comment, message and, most of all, prayer. I do what I can and when I can for the greater glory of God and for all of you. Each and every one of you is special to me.

Onto the book reviews!

If you’ve been following me for awhile and read my other book reviews, you know how much I love Anthony DeStefano’s work. My family has a collection going! Anthony has two brand new children’s books that were recently released and, friends, once again I am in awe. He is so gifted!

First up is Joseph’s Donkey. This tells the story about a faithful, hard working, and noble donkey who is an important part of the Holy Family. This is a captivating story with stunning images and the prose my family adores in many of Anthony’s children’s books.

Once again, there is stunning artistry! If you’re familiar with some of Anthony’s other books, you may recognize the work of Juliana Kolesova. Readers are sure to be drawn in by the breathtaking images!

This would make a great gift for any family or child. I think this is an especially special and appropriate gift considering we are in the year of St. Joseph. I love that Anthony is calling attention to the quiet and noble person of St. Joseph, a saint who we know little about. Anthony tells this story in a way that helps to personify St. Joseph so powerfully. He is a strong male presence - a protector and guide. Throughout this story, we witness the kindness, simplicity, and humble obedience of St. Joseph also reflected in the life of the obedient donkey who shares the same virtues. Joseph may be a quiet saint, but he had such a profound influence on Our Savior and the Blessed Mother and, as a result, on our church and on the world. In the same way, the donkey in the story makes a profound influence on Jesus and the Holy Family.

The Beggar and the Bluebird is the second book I want to share with you and it is also by Anthony DeStefano (yay!).

First off, bluebirds are my favorite backyard bird and I just love watching the bright blue streaks fly back and forth outside our back window. The birds bring me joy because they are beautiful but also because they are my mom’s favorite too and they remind me of her. She is so dear to me! Whenever I see a bluebird, it’s a reminder to say a quick prayer and thank God for Mom.

Ok, all that aside…this story is about a bluebird who is determined to fly South but is sidetracked by a beggar asking for help. This is a beautiful reminder to do all that we do with love and, if we do that, our reward in the end will be great. Just as the bluebird helps the beggar, we are called to help those in need. Jesus comes to us in all forms especially in the meek, humble, and simple. We don’t need to respond with grand gestures either. It’s all about simplicity and doing what we are called to do. I think of St. Mother Teresa and how she spent her life. She did the will of God even when she didn’t feel like it and she did it for the greater glory of God. She understood that we are the hands and feet of Jesus on earth and she did it with such tremendous love!

However, The Beggar and the Bluebird also calls to mind the fact that sometimes we have our lives planned out and things don’t go quite as we have planned. Just like the bluebird who planned to fly South and, much to his dismay, kept getting his plans changed, God often does have different plans for us that are better than our own. We just might not recognize that right in the moment.

We never know how our sacrifices might bring hope, healing, and peace to others. Sometimes we are headed down one path but then God intercedes and gently leads us down another one. We may feel disappointed, tired, and even frustrated over the change of events but in the end our calling will help, not only ourselves, but others. By giving of ourselves and following Christ’s plan in our lives, we bring hope to the world around us. God really does know what is best for us.

This is such a sweet story complemented by beautiful illustrations by Richard Cowdrey. Again, this makes a wonderful addition to any bookshelf and would be a perfect gift!

Anthony has the incredible gift of being able to take a simple, sweet story and turn it into something everyone can understand at different levels. Both of these books will grow with your children and one day they will want to share them with their own children. Anthony’s books are just that special! They are absolute treasures!

For my next blog post, I am working on putting together some of my favorite Christmas titles from Sophia Press so please be on the lookout for that especially if you’re looking for some great gift ideas! ______________________________________

Joseph’s Donkey is available HERE

The Beggar and the Bluebird is available HERE

(non-commissioned links)


Disclaimer: this post is in no way sponsored by Sophia Press. I received copies of these books in exchange for my honest feedback and am sharing my thoughts in this blog post.

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