Author: Jon M. Sweeney
Illustrator: Roy Deleon
Publisher: Paraclete Press
Age Range: 6 – 10.
Being a lifelong lover of cats, I was always going to love this book. What a wonderful idea! Why didn’t I think of it? The Holy Father is portrayed in this book as a very nice, kind old man who takes in a homeless cat and names her “Margaret”. Pretty soon, Margaret is making herself at home in the Vatican. I cannot think of a child who would not enjoy this book. The story is so simple and so endearing that children will want to read it over and over and then buy the next one in the series. Yes! This is the first of a series of books about the Pope and Margaret. So far there are four books in the successful series. In other books Margaret and the Pope celebrate Christmas together, Margaret learns about Holy Week from the Pope, and then they visit Assisi together.
Jon M. Sweeney is a successful Christian author of adult books, and now he has launched this beautiful series of books. In this first book, Margaret gets to know her new surroundings and finds herself in the middle of a very important dinner with some very important international guests – none other than the Queen of England and Prince Philip!
There is another interesting aspect to this book – children will learn about the Pope. They will learn about the Vatican, and the sorts of tasks that the Pope must do during the day. The Pope and his Swiss Guards are busy throughout this book as Margaret snoops around here and there, exploring her new surroundings. Be ready to answer heaps of questions about the Pope. Once children understand that the Pope is a real person, and that the Vatican actually exists they will be eager to learn more.
Black and white illustrations grace just about every page. Some pages are left blank except for one paragraph of text which makes the book easier for young readers to tackle.
If you would like to hear Jon M. Sweeney talk about his book then listen to Lisa Hendey’s podcast here: https://breadboxmedia.com/jon-sweeney-the-popes-cat-lisa-hendey-friends-98/.
Or you might like to watch Jon M. Sweeney talk about his own book and why he wrote it on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUZ3iM3WPJE
Jon M. Sweeney
From such a simple idea, a beautiful series of books has emerged that you will enjoy reading together. The Pope in these books is depicted as a kindly looking older man – perhaps he looks like Pope Francis, perhaps not. It doesn’t really matter. As an introduction to the role of the Pope as leader of the Catholic Church this is a brilliant book that I recommend you buy for your family or your students.
- For young children, this book would provide a good introduction to the Pope, and his role as leader of the Catholic Church.
- Shower of Roses blog has an amazing lap book you can download and help students to make: it is thorough and fabulous! https://www.showerofrosesblog.com/2013/02/papal-unit-study.html
- Every Pope designs his own Coat of Arms. Here is an explanation of Pope Francis’s Coat of Arms from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Pope_Francis
It would be fun to ask children to imagine they are a Pope designing their own Coat of Arms.
- Explain how each part of the design means something special to the Pope
- Prompting questions: What would a Pope think is important to include on the Coat of Arms; What are some symbols we might see on a Pope’s Coat of Arms (eg: a cross, the Eucharist, Keys, a church steeple, a dove etc). Discuss what each symbol might mean.
- Ask children where the Coat of Arms might be displayed: on letters, in the Pope’s office, on his bedroom door, on his car door…)
A ‘Vatican’ search of YouTube will bring up plenty of clips that highlight various aspects of Vatican City – this one showcases stunning artwork and museum pieces (check out the keys this guy carries around): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg8SVfl40N
- A free ebook aimed at older primary and early secondary students that explains about the Pope: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CPz7mGGsmuH9djZ2CkolyKk2-wDyyOSj/view