Picture book writers, I highly recommend Picture Book Builders, not just to win free books or swag, though it's lovely. A couple of years ago, I won a bookmark with a moonrock for Suzanne Slade's Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon!!! I have waited and waited for my library to get a copy--I just may have to purchase a copy for them because it's a shame not to have this amazing book for all kids to read. I've read all about the Apollo missions so it will be a treat for me to read about it in Countdown. My copy finally arrived...yay! And I love that bookmark. Can you imagine? I have a piece of the moon!!! But I digress. The PBB blog is a treasure trove for learning the process behind writing, illustrating and book design--a free education. The contributors are all so generous and I love the community they've built.
Countdown is beautifully written by Suzanne Slade and accompanied with gorgeous illustrations by Thomas Gonzales and photographs from NASA. It's a testament to dreams and human ingenuity and captures a bygone era--the race to the moon. I remember my brother glued to the radio for any news of the Apollo space program back when we lived in India. Strange how the events of the past few weeks--the Coronavirus pandemic, the riots, and the SpaceX manned flight--harken back to the summer of '69 with the Hong Kong flu, riots, and Apollo 11.
I went back to read Conceived Without Sin, where these characters were first introduced. This one's a domestic tale, mostly about marriage, men, and fatherhood. I will never forget the brilliant scene with Buzz explaining to Sam what the sacrament of marriage ought to be--the woman is the violin, the man the violinist and the violinist must discover how to play his violin so that it resonates. Ahem, men, please take note :)
Pierced by a Sword was the first book I received at the Catholic Writing Conference and the first that I read. The story is set in modern times with breakdown of family and society. We meet people very much like ourselves who may be practicing Catholics or lukewarm ones or with no belief in God at all and how they respond to grace. The story was both entertaining and spiritually enriching so I placed an order for the two other books in this apocalyptic series. And if you write to St. Jude Media/Catholicity, you can receive your own copies for free. If you feel you only have time to read one, I'd recommend House of Gold. I loved it best.
This last book, For the Silenced Ones, by Charisse Milan, is one I wish didn't have to be written because it's based on a true story of a woman who was abused as a child in satanic rituals. But just as I am grateful for Holocaust survivor stories, I am grateful to Charisse for having the courage to write this book. Isn't the cover arresting? The story begins with Callie, a young wife and mother, who has panic attacks, and who begins a journey of healing through forgiveness. At times, I wondered how this child survived the horror but Jesus was with her. It always reminds me that no one can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom 8:35-39). What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? ...For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. He is with us, especially those who are the least of us. For the Silenced Ones is beautifully written and will be a blessing to many. There are many resources in the back and on her website. Thank you, Charisse, for writing this difficult book, and I pray those who need to read it will find it.