At Peanut Butter & Grace, we believe in St. John Paul II’s vision of “evangelization by beauty,” in which he proposed beauty as a sort of universal language by which the Divine Word overcomes all barriers to penetrate human hearts. We’re convinced that beautiful storytelling is an especially powerful way to lead children to God, and that’s why we think it is so worth doing beautiful books for families . . . especially children’s picture books.
But the challenge of doing children’s picture books is that the art is expensive. It takes the most talented artists hundreds of hours to illustrate a single book. The children’s picture book titles we’ve published so far at Peanut Butter & Grace have been made possible by the artist donating part or all of his or her work to the project. Unfortunately, that’s not a sustainable strategy . . . for us, or for the artists and illustrators. The bottom line is this: If we hope to publish high-quality, beautiful books for Catholic kids—and if we hope to support a new generation of Catholic artists—we need to find a way to pay for them.
We’re asking you to support the following projects by becoming a patron of beautiful storytelling for Catholic children.
The following upcoming book projects are eligible for donor and patron book dedications.
Paddy and the Wolves
Paddy and the Wolves: An Adventure in Prayer with the Young Saint Patrick is a good example of the sort of book we’d love to make more of, with your help.
The story imagines St. Patrick as a boy of perhaps seven or eight; it opens with him being chided for being “fidgety” during his morning prayers (a detail the saint mentions in his autobiography) and sent out for the day to help the Irish shepherd, Barra, with the family’s sheep. Under Barra’s watchful eye, Paddy has all sorts of adventures throughout the day, encountering both danger and beauty. A bear, a snake, a field of bluebells, fish in a stream, a pack of wolf cubs . . . all become instruments of God’s grace, moving the young Patrick to bursts of spontaneous prayer. The young boy who fidgets too much during morning prayer thus practices praying in response to moments of peril, gratitude, and wonder.
The story deftly anticipates many elements from the life of the adult St. Patrick: his shepherd’s staff foreshadows the bishop’s crosier, and his encounter with the snake foreshadows both the legend and the courage of the mature saint. Moreover, the entire story draws on the real experience of the saint as a teenage slave tending sheep in far-away Ireland. The famous Prayer of St. Patrick (also known as the Lorica, or St. Patrick’s Breastplate) is lightly woven through the story and the art, with a fuller version, adapted for children, included in the back of the book, along with a biography of the saint and a recipe for the oat cake Paddy feeds to the wolves.
The story is written by Stephen Nagel and illustrated by renowned Catholic artist Jen Norton. It’s slated for publication in January 2017.
The All Saints Day Party
The nights are colder, the trees have lost their colorful leaves, and the sun goes to bed right after supper. That means it is almost All Saints’ Day!
Maggie and Max can’t wait for the All Saints’ Day party. There will be pumpkins and dancing and games and treats . . . and everyone will come dressed as a saint!
“What is a saint?” Max asks his mom.
Mom explains that the saints were people whose hearts were filled to overflowing with God’s love. By their actions and their words, the saints shared God’s love with others.
“Each saint loved God in his or her own special way,” Mom says. “Anyone can be a saint!”
Maggie and Max have a big, fat book full of pictures and stories about the saints. The children look at the book for a long time, but can’t decide which saint to be for the party.
“I know!” says Maggie. “We can ask Father Bill tomorrow!”
So begins a week-long adventure for Maggie and Max as they ask family and friends for advice, and in the process, learn about six wonderful saints: Elizabeth of Hungary, Teresa of Avila, Josephine Bakhita, John Bosco, Martin de Porres, and Joseph. Which saint will they choose to be for the party? You’ll just have to read the book for the surprise ending!
The book is written by Jerry Windley-Daoust and illustrated by up-and-coming Catholic artist Shaylynn Rackers.