Sister Aloysius has just arrived in Mercyville and is on her way to Our Lady of Sorrows Church with the young boy Pio. Along the way, Sister Aloysius explains the seven sorrows of Mary, what they mean and how to pray through them. Pio listens and compares how Mary felt to how his mother would feel if people were mean to him. Illustrator Plumlee-Tadlock gives us some wonderful paintings of each sorrow and the symbol of the sorrowful heart of Mary. At the back of the book are instructions for how to pray the Seven sorrows, along with a list of the seven graces promised to those who pray them. Related scripture passages and Catechism references are listed as well, so parents can read them to their children and turn a short children’s book into a week-long theology lesson. The only weakness of this book is that the lack of diversity in the illustrations might make this book alienating for non-White Catholic children. Aside from this oversight it will still be a great addition to any young Catholic child’s library.
The Seven Sorrows of Mary is a short prayer in which you meditate on seven sorrowful instances in Mary’s life and pray a “Hail Mary” after each one. If you are looking for a way to involve your children in prayer, this is a short and powerfully instructive resource. In fact, the author got her inspiration for this from her own father, who led her family in The Seven Sorrows every day until his death. It is clear that Etchison’s father is the inspiration behind her main character’s father. I personally found the paintings of the old man praying to Mary in his last days to be the most moving. As a convert to Catholicism, I can see how helpful these books will be to my children.
Because I converted as an adult, I am more familiar with how to discuss and demonstrate the faith to other adults, but how to convey the faith to a child’s mind is something I and many Catholics, cradle and convert alike, lack the tools for. This book gives parents the tools to guild their children in thinking actively about what Mary went through and how she is there for us. The book is also a hit with my one year old. When the books arrived he immediately demanded to see them and spent a full ten minutes turning the pages and pointing at things in the pictures (a whole ten minutes for my one-year-old is like an hour!). Whenever this happens I must give the credit to the artist.
Another theme of this book is the love between parents and children. Sister Aloysius lovingly remembers her father’s life of prayer. The Seven Sorrows of Mary are a meditation on Mary’s love for Christ, and the little boy Pio uses the prayer to meditate on his own mother’s love and concern for him. This book is great for children, but it also makes for a wonderful Father’s Day or Mother’s Day gift for parents of young children.
The text in this book is short, so although the series is categorized as appropriate for three year-olds and up, this volume could work as a bedtime story for babies younger than that. The large font and sentence structure also make this a good book for beginning readers.
The author also has free activity sheets she will send to any parent who requests them. The activity sheets reinforce themes in the stories and provide thought provoking activities and vocabulary reinforcement for terms which might be new to them. They include a variety of levels of activities including fill in the blanks, matching, coloring, writing, drawing, crosswords, word searches, sentence scrambles, and others.
Parents can contact the author to get free activity sheets through this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.