Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Angel Food for Boys and Girls (Neumann Press)

Angel Food for Boys and Girls is a four-volume set of hardcover books that span over 100 pages each. The books were written by Fr. Gerald T. Brennan. "Fr. Brennan was a pastor in New York, beloved by the children in his parish, to whom he told delightful stories. At the urging of friends, he published many of his tales in numerous popular books" I was stunned to learn that he was from New York as the Angel Food for Boys and Girls is written in a folksy way with stories that sound like they came from a simple country parish priest. I guess I would compare it to if there was a priest on Andy Griffith. These stories are what I would classify as modern day parables for kids. However, since they were originally published in the 1950s, I'm not sure many people would still call them "modern." At the end of every volume is an "Index of Topics" that correspond to lessons found in the Baltimore Catechism.

The title of the first story in Volume One, entitled "The Devil at the Door" had me a little worried, but once I started reading it, I learned that it was about a child on Halloween. Fr. Brennan used the example of wearing masks on Halloween to demonstrate how we all wear masks every day. He went on to say that even though we can hide behind our masks to others, God always sees the real us. Another story I enjoyed was "A Box of Hail Marys." This story told about a woman who went to Heaven on Mary's birthday. She felt bad about not having a gift for her, but her gift "arrived before her." She had said three Hail Marys a day for her whole life, and that was her gift to the Virgin Mary - a box of Hail Marys.

Each story is about 3 to 4 pages long with 28 stories in Volumes One and Two, 31 in Volume Three, and 34 in Volume Four. It's hard to pick a favorite story in this set, as Fr. Brennan paints wonderful pictures in your head, all while teaching you a lesson. That might be the beauty of these stories. Your kids won't know they are being taught a lesson until it hits them in the end. All the lessons aren't preachy, though. Yes, there is a fair share of things not to do, but there is also a lot of emphasis on building a relationship with God, Mary, and the saints. This is refreshing, because we as Catholics don't tend to emphasize having a personal relationship with God, when that is what God wants. He wants us to be able to call on Him at anytime for anything, not just when we are in trouble or need something. Another wonderful aspect of these books, is that the stories have neither protagonists that are all young children. Your children will have examples from children their own age as well as examples of adults too. That is important, because it means that the lessons aren't just for a specific age range of children. In fact, I think I got as much out of these stories as the children did if not more.

So whether you are a new parent or a seasoned pro, you will want to invest in these books. They are also useful for teachers and catechists, and with the "Index of Topics," I mentioned earlier, you can supplement a lesson plan with a story from these books. As someone who reads A LOT of books, I'll be the first to tell you that there are a ton of books out there that will be competing for your child's attention, many with questionable morals and values. We need more books like the Angel Food for Boys and Girls, as well as other titles from Neumann Press, to help combat this current trend. I know both I and my children will enjoy these books for years to come, and with the high quality of these books, I'm sure my grandchildren (God-willing) will enjoy them too.

These books were provided to me for free by Neumann Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!

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