Sisters of the Last Straw: The Case of The Missing Novice

Author: Karen Kelly Boyce

Illustrator: Sue Ann Gioulis

Publisher: KFR Communications, Illinois

Age Range: 8 and up

Here is another fun-loving addition to The Sisters of the Last Straw series of books.  These short and entertaining books are comical and easy to read.  Each of the books stands alone but reading the first book in the series sets you up well to enjoy the following stories in the set.  At present count there are SIX Sisters of the Last Straw books, with two more in the pipeline, I believe.

Each of these sisters grapples with her own weaknesses, and the introduction of a new novice brings another set of problems that the sisters need to deal with.  First and foremost prolem is Novice Kathy’s dog who is causing all sorts of problems.  As readers, we quickly pick up the story of Sister Shiny’s obsession with cleaning and her rather unfortunate encounter with puppy piddle on her newly polished floor.

Oh dear.

I found this particular book to be very suited to younger readers who will enjoy the sister’s antics, and fume over the rotten neighbour’s sour attitude to playful puppies. Like the first book, there is plenty of slapstick humour – including a runaway trolley through the hardware store which is hilarious.

Author, Karen Kelly Boyce

Within a short time, the sisters are demonstrating their commitment to the disadvantaged and bumbling their way through each day.  Suddenly, Novice Kathy vanishes and the sisters come to realize how attached they have become to her.  All’s well that end’s well though and when Novice Kathy returns, she immediately takes her final vows to become Sister Wanda.

References are made to Jesus getting lost and being found in the temple doing His Father’s work, and the sisters periodically pray throughout the story.  Catholic messages are here, but not in a pronounced or obvious way.  Children will love reading this  fast paced and simple story. There is reference to one of the sisters smoking cigarettes which is her particular weakness that she tries (unsuccessfully) to overcome.  Some parents/teachers may find the depiction of smoking cigarettes problematic in a children’s story, but it is a good conversation starter about the problem of addiction.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – with the slapstick humour, these stories would make a great TV series.

Read my review of the first book in the Sisters of the Last Straw HERE.

Read an interview with Karen Kelly Boyce HERE:

Homeschool and Teacher Ideas.

Coupled with my suggestions from the first Sisters of the Last Straw book, why not read the account of Jesus being found in the Temple:

Luke 2 39-52.

The children tell the Sisters that Jesus was in His Father’s house, and Novice Kathy was doing the Father’s work – ask children what they think this means.  Then ask them to draw a picture of Joseph and Mary finding Jesus in the temple – there are plenty of artworks you can use on Google images to get them thinking. Older children can either write down and explanation of the symbolism found in a traditional artwork that depicts this story, or explain the symbolism used in their own artwork.

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