Sister Aloysius Gets Ready for the First Day of School By Linda Etchison Illustrated by Denise Plumlee-Tadlock

by | Sep 17, 2021 | Children's Books

Genre

Children’s Literature

Audience

Ages 3-9 Years / Kindergarten

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2019

Themes

prayer, vocations, teaching, teachers, eucharist, the true presence, Divine Mercy, St. Faustina, Divine Mercy Hour, Intercession, holy water, visits to the blessed sacrament, trust in Jesus, adoration

 

Reviewed by

A.R.K. Watson

Sister Aloysius has arrived at her new church in Mercyville and is so excited to start teaching that she wakes up before everyone else in the convent. After visiting Jesus in the tabernacle and praying before the statue of Divine Mercy, she spends the whole day decorating her classroom for the children. The  A young boy, Pio and his sister, Catherine show up and offer to help her. While they are decorating the bullito (bulletin) boards, the clock strikes 3 O’Clock. Sister Aloysius explains why the hour is a special one and gives a brief story of St. Faustina and Divine Mercy. Inspired by her story, the children and Sister Aloysius go back to the tabernacle to pray and thank God for his mercy and help. The whole book is illustrated with beautiful acrylic paintings of a church, convent and schoolroom.

At the back of the book are three pages explaining church teaching on the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the use and efficacy of holy water and the hour of mercy with references listed from the Catechism, the Bible and St. Faustina’s diary. Not only will this educate adults, but it also gives them the tools, language and reference material for teaching their children. Like the other books in the Sister Aloysius series, it can be used as a teaching reference for a weeklong at-home theology lesson. It makes a good book for bedtime stories to children younger than three and a useful book for beginning readers. Compared to the other books in the series, it also has more diverse faces represented, especially on pages that talk about the church as the universal organization that it is.

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: linda@sisteraloysius.com.

My favorite moment in the book is the painting of when Sister Aloysius enters the church in the early morning and sees the red lamp hanging above the sanctuary. In the painting, the warm glow of the lamp fills the page and teaches children to view the church as a warm, quiet and safe place. Sister Aloysius’ joy upon entering is also instructive to young minds.

Sister Aloysius’s joy and anticipation at getting to teach will also be a comfort to young children starting or returning to school and will hopefully help them to see their teachers as kind loving people who work hard to teach them. The whole Sister Aloysius series is helpful for getting children to regard both teachers and religious sisters as humans worthy of the respect and affection that the young Pio gives Sister Aloysius.

Each book in this series focuses on a different prayer in the Catholic tradition: the focus in this book is Christ’s Divine Mercy. Sister Aloysius prays “Jesus I trust in you,” as she sets aside her worries about starting her new job as a teacher, and the book ends with the sister, Pio and Catherine reflecting on the benefits of praying during the hour of Divine Mercy, making this a great book to pull out to read in the week after Easter Sunday.

Though the series can be read in any order, if you can only get one book in the series this one would be my personal recommendation for its accessibility and the lessons to help young children feel safe and loved at school. It helps that this book has some of my favorite examples of illustrator Denise Plumlee-Tadlocks’ work.

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