Title: The Sign of the Carved Cross
Author: Lisa M. Hendey
Illustrator: Jenn Bower
Publisher: Servant, and imprint of Franciscan Media
Age Range: 8 – 13
I enjoyed this story aimed at the 7 – 10 years age group. Young readers will relate to our main character’s problem: she’s being rude to the new girl so that she can remain friends with the popular girls. Katie isn’t sure why she is being so rude and unfriendly to the new girl, Lily. All she knows is that she doesn’t want Lily hanging around.
Suddenly, as Saint Anne’s church bells chime, Katie is whisked back in time in her first Chime Traveling adventure. Her twin brother, Patrick, travelled back in time in Book one of this series, where he met Saint Patrick in Ireland. Katie wasn’t sure she believed Patrick’s story of being transported through time, but now she finds herself back in 1675, where she meets Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint.
This story provides great explanations of longhouses made of poles and bark – and details the simple food and lifestyle of Kateri Tekakwitha who is living with her Uncle’s family. A survivor of small pox, Kateri has scarred skin, and is resented by the rest of the tribe because she is drawn to the new message of the Christian missionaries – called ‘blackrobes’. Eventually, Katie and Kateri Tekakwitha leave her village and travel a long way to the city where they join other missionaries and converts.
Author, Lisa Hendey
Throughout her adventures, Katie learns that she needs to trust God who is in control of all things. Even when the situation seems impossible, Katie is inspired by Kateri Takakwitha’s unwavering faith and trust in God.
Seeing the efforts and sacrifices that Kateri makes, Katie begins to see that she has taken her own faith for granted. Katie can take communion every day of the week if she wants to and she also enjoys the full support of a Catholic family and community. Kateri Tekakwitha on the other hand, had to overcome her physical ailments, being socially shunned and long distances in order to make her first communion.
Katie is humbled by Saint Kateri’s example. She acknowledges the nasty and mean comments that she was making about the new girl at school, Lily, and resolves to be nicer to her. When she finally makes it home, Katie and Lily become great friends.
Lisa Hendey weaves the two stories of Lily and Kateri together well. Children will really relate to the situation – who hasn’t felt like the outcast at some time? And yet, Saint Kateri demonstrates perseverance and strength of character. She also reminds us that we should have more appreciation for the Mass and the sacraments. A great Catholic message.
Title: The Whisper in the Ruins
Author: Lisa M. Hendey
Illustrator: Jenn Bower
Publisher: Servant, an imprint of Franciscan Media
Age Range: Ages 8 – 13
The Whisper in the Ruins sees Patrick whisked back in time to Assisi. Yes! He meets Saint Francis of Assisi, who is dealing with his father’s wrath – a young Saint Francis feels drawn to help the needy and devote his life to God’s work. This makes his successful businessman father sad and angry.
Patrick helps Saint Francis rebuild the local rundown Church, and watches as Saint Francis draws people together to help rebuild the Church. Patrick learns that rebuilding the Church means more than just fixing up the building – Saint Francis highlights the importance of loving and helping each other as a means of renewing people’s Faith and Hope.
Back home again after his time travelling adventure, Patrick realizes that the school bully, Peter, is probably angry for a reason – so he sets out to find out why Peter is so angry. He discovers that Peter’s mom is really sick and the family is under a lot of stress. Patrick and his sister Katie rally the parish to pitch in and start a Saint Francis fund which will be used to assist families in the parish during hard times. Their hard work leads to emotional and spiritual healing for Peter and his family, who return together to Church.
I found this book easy to read – the story moves along at a good pace. Children will love how Saint Francis tames the wild wolf with love and understanding. The situation with Saint Francis’s parents is sad and is not really resolved – it seems his father will remain angry for ever. Saint Francis publicly denounces his father and walks away to commence God’s work. It would be a good discussion point to have with children – sometimes making peace within your own family is the hardest job of all.
I highly recommend both of these books in the Chime Traveller’s series by Lisa M Hendey. They are well pitched to the intended age group and provide plenty of discussion points for children. There is a handy Discussion Questions section at the end of the book, which teachers and homeschoolers will find very helpful.
Check out the Chime Travelers on Lisa Hendey’s Website HERE.
You can purchase your Chime Traveler books HERE.