Author: Linda Etchison
Illustrator: Denise Plumlee-Tadlock
Publisher: Self published
Age Range: 3 – 7 years
There are currently four books in the Sister Aloysius series. Linda Etchison and Denise Plumlee-Tadlock have produced a delightful series of stories about a young nun, Sister Aloysius. In Sister Aloysius Gets Ready for the First Day of School, we follow Sister as she prepares her new classroom. Children will discover how prayer punctuates the day for Sister Aloysius – from morning prayers at the side of her bed, to a quick visit to the church on her way to school, morning mass with her sisters and finally the Hour of Mercy – three o’clock.
This really is an enchanting picture book. Children will see a young Sister Aloysius with her hair down and in her nightgown as she pushes back her curtain to peek at the sunrise. I loved the fact that Sister Aloysius has a roommate – an older sister, still asleep with her reading glasses sitting on the bedside table. These little, thoughtful details bring Sister Aloysius to life. As readers, we feel intimately close to Sister Aloysius as she prepares for her busy day.
Throughout her day, Sister Aloysius carefully prepares her classroom for first day of school. Children will love this “behind the scenes” look at how teachers prepare for the arrival of students – writing out nametags and decorating the pin up boards. Sister Aloysius is presented as a friendly, caring and devoted soul who invites two students in to help her arrange her classroom.
This is an extremely Catholic picture book. Sister Aloysius is seen genuflecting, blessing herself with Holy Water, contemplating the real presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, and observing the 3 0’clock Holy Hour. Sister also rushes off to morning Mass with her sisters. If you want to expose children to these very Catholic ideas and practices, then look no further – order these books!
There is one illustration of a soldier piercing the side of Jesus on the cross which is somewhat graphic, although the blood and water gushing forth is stylized to imitate the Divine Mercy image. Sister explains the significance of pausing and praying at 3 o’clock to the children she meets. This image and explanation provide a useful talking point with your children or students. In fact, this would be a very good book for a class or homeschool as it provides plenty of opportunity to highlight Catholic rituals such as genuflecting and blessing yourself with Holy Water as you enter and leave the church.
The prose is simple, the drawings are large and bright. Sister is presented as a young, enthusiastic, and caring person who eagerly anticipates her new position as schoolteacher. In a world filled with dark pessimism and cynicism, Sister Aloysius is a ray of sunshine and a breath of fresh air. I would not hesitate to purchase this book for my students or the children in my family.
Check out the Sister Aloysius website HERE where you can download free worksheets for your children.
You can purchase all of the Sister Aloysius books HERE.
Homeschool and Teaching Ideas
Firstly I would be heading off to the Sister Aloysius website to access the free printable worksheets.
Secondly, as mentioned above, I would be pausing and talking to young children about the different parts of the church (pews, tabernacle, Holy Water font, tabernacle flame, altar…) Maybe ask your children or students to identify these things on a short tour of your local church. Then ask them to draw what they saw.
The Divine Mercy image is highlighted in the story. Perhaps you could introduce the story of Sister Faustina and discuss the significance of Divine Mercy. See my book review HERE of the Divine Mercy for Children.
This story book fits nicely with several others that I have reviewed about VOCATIONS. Why not focus on religious vocations for a few weeks and read these story books.