Author: Anthony DeStefano
Illustrator: Juliana Kolesova
Age Range: 3 – 8
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press
This has to be the most beautiful children’s book I have ever had the pleasure to hold in my hands. Sophia Institute Press has produced a glorious hardback picture book which tells children how Our Lady used to be a poor girl on Earth but is now living in a white mansion in heaven.
Using the idea that Our Lady has carefully chosen her clothes whenever she has revealed herself on Earth, Anthony DeStefano recounts several of the well-known and Vatican approved apparitions of Our Lady. The presentation of this book is stunning. Illustrations span across both pages and depict the presence of Our Lady in various situations either on Earth or in her heavenly mansion. I find the cover of the book to be incredibly enticing as Our Lady gazes straight at us and beckons to us with her eyes.
I must say I was skeptical before I read the book – it sounded a little too silly to be focusing on Our Heavenly Mother’s wardrobe. But I was wrong. The book is delightful. The opening words put my mind at ease:
“Our Lady leads us to the Lord;
That’s what she’s always done.”
DeStafano makes this very important point in the first line. From there, using simple rhyming couplets, DeStefano explains how Our Lady appeared to children at Fatima and Lourdes, to the people in Knock, Ireland, and then several other well-known places throughout time and place. It is a very simple book to read and young children will be reading it in no time.
The most wonderful aspect of this book has to be Juliana Kolesova’s luscious illustrations – expansive, lifelike, colourfully rich and enchanting. Children will gaze at these pages and be drawn in by their beauty. What an absolute pleasure this special book is to hold and peruse. Yes, Our Lady has blue eyes and light brown hair with pale white skin – she does not look particularly Middle Eastern. The book does not portray peoples from different cultural backgrounds, although the stories depicted do not necessarily lend themselves to diverse cultural backgrounds (with the exception of course of Our Lady of Guadalupe).
If I had unlimited resources, I would buy a copy of this book to place in the hands of every Catholic child in Australia. Alas! That’s not going to happen! Maybe you could organize some fundraising in your school or parish to buy this special book as a gift to your First Communicants or for those who receive the sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. It’s a book I recommend highly. Any child who receives this book will treasure it and learn its simple lessons well.
“O Mary, Queen Immaculate,
Please help us love your Son.
Please help us love and serve Him,
Till our life on Earth is done.”
You can buy Our Lady’s Wardrobe HERE
- This book seems to lend itself well to art and craft activities – perhaps due to the inspiring artwork within. I would start by asking children to design their own outfits for Mary at each of these places of visitation – I know my daughter would have spent hours on the details of each design.
- Geography/social science: I might even have made a lesson out of each of the visitations: read the story of Our Lady’s visit (plenty of resources online). Then show children the geographic location on a map or globe – then depending on the age of the child you could research together about that area.
- Average temperature.
- Terrain (dessert or cold and rainy urban setting)
- Time period dress: what were people wearing at that time?
- What language did they speak?
- Depending on age of your children or class you could include favourite foods, sports or children’s games of the era.
- Here are some different resources for younger children learning about Mary and her role in our faith:
- Loyola Press has some great ideas and links here: https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/saints/saints-activities/resource-collections/marian-resources/
- As always, Catholicicing has plenty of ideas and resources: https://www.catholicicing.com/honoring-mary-in-the-month-of-may-with-kids/
- A fabulous cut out shrine activity for older children: https://www.looktohimandberadiant.com/2013/03/notebook-pop-up-mary-shrine.html
- Some ideas here for young children; or sign up for free printables. https://catholicsprouts.com/paper-mary-dolls-free-printable/
- Heaps of free ideas and lesson here: https://www.catholicteacher.com/tag/blessed-mother/