Author: Laura Alary
Illustrated: Ann Boyajian
Publisher: Paraclete Press
Age Range: 4 – 7
From the opening page of this beautiful book I was entranced. The lines read:
“This is the season of Lent.
The church is dressed in purple.”
What impressed me most about this picture book is the poetic style of writing. Coming from Canada, the changing colours of a land that is slowly turning from the cold of winter into warmth of spring are gorgeously captured by Laura Alary.
“We are in the grey time between winter and spring.”
“Colours are like a different language we can all speak
even when we have no words”
The different rituals of Easter are explored as the book progresses. Laura Alary cleverly introduces the themes of making time, making space and making room during Lent. Suggestions are made about how children can accomplish each of these challenges during Lent eg, clearing out your cupboards, de-cluttering and then donating to charities. I liked how the illustrations aid children in their understanding of these concepts – showing children how they can box up their old clothes and toys.
“There are times for filling up and times for emptying out.
Lent is a time for emptying,
For sharing, for giving away. It is good to make space.”
The final section of the book tracks the events of Holy Week. Once again Laura Alary’s elegant prose evokes the sadness of Good Friday as the cross is draped in black. Then, the dawning of Easter Sunday brings forth new life and hope as a community of people gather to watch the sun rise. I can’t say enough how much I loved this book!
There are scriptural references throughout which add to its authenticity. Illustrations by Ann Bovajian grace every page and harmoniously complement the prose. Teachers and parents will enjoy reading this book aloud to their children and talking with them about how they might make time, space and room during Lent. If you only buy one book for Easter – buy this one! Elegant, beautiful and authentically Catholic.
Homeschool and Teacher Ideas
The age range for this book is quite young, but middle grade children will still love hearing the beautiful prose and might even enjoy reading it to younger siblings!
Brainstorming ideas for Lent would be a great way for children to apply these ideas to themselves and their own lives: I would have younger children writing lists of ideas and pinning them up somewhere.
There are a range of possibilities for drawing pictures. I would focus on ‘colour’ and invite children to think about how colour can evoke mood in a picture – use examples from the book. The colours of spring could be compared to the colours of winter. Why do we use purple and black cloth in the church during Holy Week? You might talk about the colours of the priest’s vestments also.
Following on from the above activity and depending on children’s abilities, I would ask children to write out how different colours can be used to evoke different moods, thoughts and feelings.
There are some questions on page nine which ask children to reflect on their behaviour and impact on the world. This would be a good starting point for a discussion and written or creative response.