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Beauty is a battlefield.

"Beauty is the battlefield where God and Satan contend for the hearts of men." Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Song of the Sea

 Looking for a St. Patrick's Day film to celebrate the big day? Two of my favorites are The Quiet Man and the hilarious Waking Ned Devine. Recently I discovered a new favorite, Song of the Sea (2014), an Irish fairy tale set in modern times. It is directed by Tomm Moore, co-founder of the Irish animation company Cartoon Saloon. I was captivated by its artistry, made possible by hand-drawn animation and original music.

In the plot, Conor,a lighthouse keeper who lives on an island with his ten year old son Ben, wife Bronagh, and sheepdog Cu. Bronagh dies after childbirth, leaving the gift of an infant daughter named Saoirse, who is mute. Later, it is discovered that Saoirse is a selkie, a seal who can shed its skin and become human. The children embark on an adventure through the Irish countryside, accompanied by their sheepdog Cu, who is reminiscent of the dog Nana in Peter Pan. They encounter Macha, an owl witch. Macha steals feelings and turns people into stone. Ultimately, Ben comes to the rescue, giving Macha back her feelings and allowing her to realize that feelings, even those that are painful, make us fully human.

Few animated films take on the delicate subject of grief, but Moore did a test-screening with his wife's primary school class. After watching the film, students wrote down their comments and turned them in to Moore.I loved the results. The children told Moore that he was too heavy-handed in his approach. Tone it down, be more subtle, the students wrote. Movie directors take heed! Kids don't like plots that are non-stop action. Kids don't need another movie showing Godzilla battling King Kong and destroying New York City in the process. Thankfully, Moore took their advice .

Steve D. Greydanos (Decent Films),my favorite film reviewer, wrote of the film, Tomm Moore isn't afraid to take the time to breathe deeply, savor moments of silence and beauty, and open the door to wonder and mystery.

Song of the Sea was greeted with overwhelmingly positive reviews and was nominated for best animated film in 2015.


Star Wars or Monk Wars?


 Wreck of the Essex

Fourteen year old Thomas Nickerson stands aboard the whaling ship Essex and scans the Pacific Ocean. Somewhere beneath the surface lurks Maximus, the sperm whale that killed his father. Suddenly the whale charges and destroys the ship.
Thusbegins the odyssey of Thomas Nickerson and the Essex crew, adrift in battered whaleboats thousands of miles from land. As they battle starvation and storms, Tom makes surprising discoveries about courage, hope, and the power of friendship.
This isthe historical fiction version of the true incident that inspired the bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea and Revenge of the Whale, both written by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is perfect for young readers, ages 8-12. Great introduction to the reading of Moby Dick.

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Heavenly Hosts

Your children likely know all about the Eucharist, that central ritual beloved by Catholics worldwide. But do they know that God’s presence in the Eucharist is miraculous?

Heavenly Hosts presents documented Eucharistic miracles in story form to bring middle-grade readers to a better understanding of the Real Presence. One story details a fourth-century priest in the Sahara Desert who loses his faith until the Christ Child appears in the Host; this miraculous sighting causes the priest to return to God. In another tale, Antonio, a ninth-century altar boy, stands firm in a test of faith and is rewarded for his fidelity. And in one memorable story in Italy, a thirteenth-century debate over the true nature of the Eucharist is settled when a donkey falls to its knees before a monstrance containing the consecrated Host.

These stories and more—including a tale involving the future pope Francis—demonstrate God’s involvement in the lives of Catholics throughout the centuries, including today. Through these miraculous accounts set in various historical times and places, your children will discover a new appreciation for the Eucharist and its illustration of God’s love for those who follow Him. Heavenly Hosts is an essential book for all Catholic families. Saint Pope John Paul II called for us to "rekindle Eucharistic amazement" in the New Evangelization. Heavenly Hosts encourages us to understand, appreciate, and love the Eucharist.