Friday, October 28, 2016

A Must-Have Picture Book for All Saints Day

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It's no secret that my children and I love celebrating the saints, so I was absolutely delighted when I contacted Catholic author/illustrator Sherry Boas to see if I might review a copy Jackie's Special Halloween and received an immediate reply, followed by a package from Catholic Word that contained a copy of Jackie's Special Halloween in it.

What is Jackie's Special Halloween About?

In Jackie's Special Halloween, a pumpkin named Jackie yearns to experience all of the activities of Halloween and ends up being chosen by a little boy named Pablo, who is equally as eager to enjoy dressing up, playing games, and eating tons of candy.

Pablo's mother and sister Bella, however, explain to Pablo that Halloween is more than just candy and costumes. The word Halloween comes from he phrase All Hallow's Eve, and hallows is another name for saints. 
The story, then, continues with Pablo and Bella carving Jackie into a special jack-o-lantern and placing her on the porch of their home, where she gets a perfect view of all the decorations, costumes, and guests at an All Saints Day party.

Each guest that comes to the party takes time to tell Jackie a little about the stories and virtues of the saints, and Jackie comes to understand that Halloween is about roe than just dressing up in costumes.  She recognizes that we can all experience God's love and live extraordinary lives and that she, herself, was created with the purpose of shining brightly.

Illustrated with cheerful artwork and recognizable pictures of the saints,
Jackie's Special Halloween engages children and invites them to learn (or recall details) about ten heroic saints who chose to live for God by practicing specific virtues. In doing so, the picture book reminds us that we, too, are called to holiness.  We celebrate and honor extraordinary men and women of faith, and we can choose to model after them, too.

Finally, the closing page of
Jackie's Special Halloween also contains a 10th century Prayer in praise of the Saints.

What Did We Think of the Book?

My children were just as excited as I was to open the package we received and to read the special All Saints Day book Jackie's Special Halloween.  In fact, they were so eager for us to read it, that I didn't even have time to read my camera before I began a family read together time. 

As soon as we cracked open
Jackie's Special Halloween, my children were captured by the bright, happy illustrations in it, while I appreciated how the story quickly connected the modern day cultural tradition of Halloween with the Catholic celebration of All Saints Day.

As we continued to read, the children thoroughly enjoyed guessing which saints each of the children in the book dressed up as, and I loved how author Brenda Castro wove together a story about an All Saints Day party, details about saints, and examples of virtue.

When my children and I finished
Jackie's Special Halloween, we all agreed it is a keeper!

My youngest, age six, said:

It was funny!  I liked guessing the saints!

My middle child, age nine, said:

I really thought it was cute how the pumpkin wanted to be picked because of Halloween and dressing up, but realized that was not the purpose of All Hallows' Eve.  It's to celebrate the saints!

My oldest, age ten, said:

It was cute!  The pictures were cute.  I liked that it talks about the saints.  I liked guessing each saint, too.  I guessed most of them except Saints Monica and Augustine.

And me? 

I whole-heartedly agree that
Jackie's Special Halloween tells a cute story that begs for guessing fun and reminds children of why we, as Catholics, celebrate Halloween, or, rather, All Hallows' Eve and All Saints Day.  I also can envision creating a series of All Saints Day games to match up to the saints explored in the story:

  • St. Francis of Assisi
  • St. Martin de Porres
  • Saint Teresa of Calcutta
  • Saint John Paul II
  • St. Therese of Lisieux
  • St. Vincent de Paul
    St. Monica
  • St. Augustine
    St. Juan Diego
  • St. Kateri

Plus, of course, virtue studies come to mind to further explore:

  • Obedience
  • Humility
  • Compassion
  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Charity
  • Courage
  • Sacrifice
  • Faith 
  • Wisdom

Gentle connections to vocations and pro-life issues can be made with Jackie's Special Halloween, too.  For, on the last page, Jackie reocognizes her purpose and that God created her with something special in mind.

Learn More

Most certainly, the 42-page, 8.5 x 11 inch, softcover
Jackie's Special Halloween picture book is packed with potential for expanding studies about faith, culture, and virtues, while it also stands as a fun, faith-based fall read aloud.  I am delighted to add it to our permanent book collection and encourage you to check it out, too..

You can currently find
Jackie's Special Halloween in softcover for $12.49 or formatted for Kindle for $3.99.  It is also available for FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

You can also read more about
Jackie's Special Halloween at Tracy's review at A Slice of Smith Life, where I first learned about this delightful All Saints Day picture book.

If you've been looking for a picture book that explains the true meaning of Halloween and offers details about saints and virtues, Jackie's Special Halloween is just what you've been seeking!


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