The header image above is an actual message I received, in a rather round-about way, from a reader. Fear not, faithful followers of the fiery-haired five-year-old! The “folks” over here in Mollyland have set a goal: in 2018, the month of Valentines and Mardi Gras will feature BOOK THREE! Rumor has it, it’ll be something to party about. Little teaser:
Stay tuned for updates!
Thought about what to make with all your leftovers yet?
National Vocations Awareness Week 2017 begins Sunday, November 5, and it’s been a really exciting time here at the “McBride” residence. I had the pleasure of writing a piece again this year for Peanut Butter and Grace, and that article is here. Additionally, I had the privilege of appearing live on Catholic TV’s This Is the Day show with Bonnie Rogers and Kevin Nelson. We discussed my favorite topic: fostering religious vocations through children’s literature!
Looking back, I was lucky. I treasure so many beautiful childhood memories, especially visits from my 2 nun-aunts, Sister Carla and Sister Mary Elizabeth. My mom used to say, back then, every Catholic family strived to raise at least one child to hear the calling to the religions life.
My grade school principal was a religious sister, as were several of the teachers and staff. These days a Catholic school kid can go a whole 12 years of school (or more, if you count pre-school and kindergarten) without ever meeting a religious other than his/her parish priest.
This makes me so sad. How will we continue to have religious sisters and brothers, as well as ordained priests and deacons, in the future of the Church when this generation of children never sees any? And so I write the Molly McBride series with the hopes that my colorful little character will influence other spunky little kids to consider the calling.
Besides reading books about religious to your kids, you can head over to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ page for a long list of suggestions for families. The following prayer is from the same site:
“O Holy Family of Nazareth, community of love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, model and ideal of every Christian family, to you we entrust our families. Open the heart of every family to the faith, to welcoming the word of God, to Christian witness, so that it become a source of new and holy vocations. Touch the hearts of parents, so that with prompt charity, wise care, and loving devotion they be for their sons and daughters sure guides towards spiritual and eternal values. Stir up in the hearts of young people a right conscience and a free will, so that growing in wisdom, age and grace, they might welcome generously the gift of a divine vocation. Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that all of us, contemplating and imitating the assiduous prayer, generous obedience, dignified poverty and virginal purity lived out in your midst, might set about fulfilling the will of God and accompanying with far-sighted sensitivity those among us who are called to follow more closely the Lord Jesus, who has given himself for us (cf. Gal 2:20).”
As “Molly’s” big sis approaches the teen years, Momma’s learning to look in all the right places for great teen/YA series. I’m so happy to give 2 thumbs waaaaaay up for T. M. Gaouette (pronounced “gow ETT”) and her Faith and Kung Fu series which appeals to guys and gals alike.
The series kicks off with Freeing Tanner Rose. Tanner Rose is a 14-year-old starlet already well on her way to a life choked with the typical Hollywood vices. She’s put into a sort of rehab situation (staying with a college friend of her mom’s) when she meets the very wholesome 16-year-old Gabriel, martial arts lover and actively practicing Catholic.
Aaaaand they pretty much can’t stand one another. Gabriel keeps finding himself in situations where Tanner’s superficial personality embarrasses him to death in front of his friends. It’s such a antithesis to the typical teeny-bopper story where the geek gets made over by a cool kid and geek thus becomes popular.
I wish there had been books like this when I was a teen! I happened to grow up in a really, REALLY less-than-wholesome peer group situation, and I had no reason to believe there were any “good” kids my age ANYWHERE. It seemed everyone around me was a Tanner Rose. Now, I’m not going to go into any gory details here, but it wasn’t until years and years later that I discovered there actually were some kids out there who didn’t smoke, drink, do drugs, etc. It would be so nice if every teen experiencing this feeling could read this book and realize that there really are kids out there like Gabriel and his friends. Check out this conversation between Tanner and Gabriel’s friends Faith and Nina, talking about Gabriel:
“He should totally think about modeling,” Tanner said.
Faith snorted. “Don’t hold your breath. He’s not like that.” She noted the look of confusion on Tanner’s face. “It’s not that complicated, Rose. Gabriel’s not into looks. I don’t even think that he realizes he’s handsome. And he’s definitely not interested in dating. None of us are.” She turned and grabbed a large bag of chips from her backpack and pulled it open.
“Sometimes you have to exploit your talents before they disappear,” Tanner said.
“Yeah, but Gabriel would say that looks aren’t a talent.” Faith popped a large chip into her mouth. “And besides plastic surgery, people shouldn’t be credited for their looks. That’s all God.” She tipped the bag toward Tanner who took a chip and ate it.
“But it takes an effort to maintain yourself,” Tanner said.
“Yeah, but that’s different,” Faith said, looking at Tanner. “Personality is what really defines a person, and even a beautiful person can be ugly if they’re horrible inside, and vice versa.” She shoved another chip into her mouth and raised her eyebrows, as if waiting for a response. But Tanner didn’t have one ready to go. So they looked at each other, the sound of crunching filling the conversation void.
“Well, the people I hang out with don’t really pay attention to personality. They just care about looks and money,” Tanner said eventually.
“That’s too bad.”
Faith shrugged and wiped her hand on her towel. Her mouth was still full, so Tanner waited. Finally, she said, “Because those things just can’t compete against a good character.”
T. M. does such a wonderful job of making the characters so real and likable that, even wholesome as they are, I’d like to believe my teen-self would have wanted to emulate them. I love it that there is so much detail about the girls’ clothes. Teen girls love to read about what other teen girls are wearing, and the way T. M. contrasts the flashy, slinky outfits Tanner sports against the cute, modest way Faith and Nina dress will surely send the right message to today’s YA readers. Positive peer pressure!
Talk about getting inside a young girl’s head! Imagine you are a 14 year-old girl with a lot of insecurities and problems, away from your family and friends, in the home of a really good-looking 16-year old boy. You’re flirting, trying to act extra mature and worldly to impress him.
“So you’ve never…?” Tanner asked, looking up at him. He shook his head, his eyebrows raised in amusement. “Someone as hot as you?”
He laughed softly. “It’s dependent on looks? he asked. “Besides, you’re fourteen. You shouldn’t be thinking about sex, let alone calling boys ‘hot’ to their faces.” He shook his head and glanced out at the house. She was suddenly embarrassed and she didn’t know why. Shouldn’t he be embarrassed that he’s a virgin at 16? she wondered. But Gabriel showed no embarrassment or shame. In fact, she was certain that he seemed proud of it.
“Have you ever kissed a girl?” she asked.
“Nope,” he said with that same un abashed tone.
“Must make for some pretty awkward dates, ” she said with a smile. “You’ve probably broken a ton of hearts.”
“I don’t date,” he said, looking at her. Tanner was reminded of her conversation with Faith and Nina during their camping trip.
“What?” she said and this time she laughed. “Are you kidding me?”
“Why not?” And then a thought crossed her mind and she added, “Oh, your mom won’t let you?”
Gabriel shrugged. “I don’t know if she would. I’ve never asked her.”
“Never met a girl you wanted to date? What about Faith or Nina?”
“I don’t date, Tanner.”
“Because it’s a waste of time and emotions..” He held her gaze and shrugged before adding, “I don’t want to get involved with anyone I wouldn’t consider for a future wife, and getting married is just not an option right now. So, until God opens that door for me, I’m not interested.”
Tanner let his words replay in her mind, and it surprised her how affected she was by them, and she didn’t know why. She didn’t know if it was because he had the courage to make such a statement or if she wished she had the resolve to make that same vow.
Burn! Poor Tanner.
Well, I won’t spoil it for you. Buy Freeing Tanner Rose to see what Tanner ends up doing, then get book number 2 Saving Faith.
Oh! and Book 3 is coming very soon! We can’t wait.
My daughter has also read and enjoyed T. M. Gaouette’s The Destiny Of Sunshine Ranch. Maybe she can be a guest blogger and fill you in on it!
I’m just thanking God for T. M. Gaouette and all these amazing Catholic authors of teen/YA lit. I do believe they will change the world!
Isn’t it great when you make a new friend?
The other day I realized that the author of one of my youngest’s (yep, the “Molly” prototype) favorite new picture books is a Seal-mate! I got to chatting with Ginny Lieto, fellow Catholic Writers’ Guild member and winner of the Guild’s Seal of Approval for her children’s picture book Finding Patience.
“For children, it is difficult to wait for anything! Wouldn’t it be nice if your child or grandchild exhibited a little patience? Help is on the way! Adventures of Faith, Hope, and Charity–Finding Patience is a book for children ages 4-8; an age when patience seems non-existent! This book offers parents and educators a practical, yet entertaining way of introducing and reinforcing patience through the power of prayer. It is through prayer that Faith, learns how God works within her, in His time, to help her grow in patience.”
Like my Plaid Jumper, Finding Patience has a back-to-school setting (and uniforms!). It is a great read-aloud to kids ages 3-4 and up, and I think most 8-9 year-olds would even enjoy reading it on their own. This engaging story has darling illustrations by Carole Hahn Panzer and comes complete with every kid’s favorite thing: puppies!
I do have to say, there was a part that really grabbed me emotionally. Barely moved into a new house in a new town, the main character Faith had a hard first day at her new school. Due to her shyness she sat alone in the cafeteria during lunch. This is the scene when she gets home that first day;
“Faith sobbed, ‘Nobody likes me!’
‘No, no,’ replied Mama. ‘They just don’t know you yet.’
‘I want to go home,’ cried Faith, ‘to be with my friends.'”
The first day I showed up for cafeteria duty at the real “Molly’s” new school, I realized she’d been sitting there eating alone almost daily. That really hurts a Mama’s heart! But things got better for both “Molly” and Faith. It’s hard to not leak a spoiler, but trust me when I say that the end of Ginny’s super-sweet book is very clever! WTG, GF!!!
Ginny is such an interesting woman. (I’ve met a ton of amazing folks in the Catholic Writers’ Guild!) Like my hubs, she hails from the Garden State. She left New Jersey for North Carolina, and now, besides writing, blogging and public speaking, she teaches theology online at Saint Joseph’s College in Maine. Like mine, Ginny’s life has taken some wild career turns. In a former life she was an accountant. “I believe that God’s plan for me is far better than anything for which I could conceive,” she writes in her blog. Like a lot of great writers, she draws upon a rich, sometimes unpredictable, source of life experiences that includes career changes and big moves. But her leaving NJ was difficult. Blessedly, she has great faith and a strong support system. Ginny recalls the words of her husband Nick fondly, “I’ll go anywhere as long as I am with you.”
Adventures of Faith, Hope, and Charity–Finding Patience is an absolutely wonderful debut children’s picture book by my new friend, the very talented Virginia Lieto. Seriously, that woman could write the phonebook and make it interesting! Follow her blog, FB page, twitter, everywhere you can find Ginny’s wisdom.
And definitely buy this book. Then share it with a good friend, just like my “Molly.”
Ways to follow Virginia Lieto:
Link to book: http://amzn.to/2s5uR3Z
Social media links: