The Monks Make Amends

Author: Sylvia Dorham

Illustrator: Christopher Tupa

Publisher: Tan Books

Age Range: Ages 4 – 7.

This delightful and clever picture book is part of a series of books about a group of Carmelite Monks.  It is based on a real-life monastery in Cheyanne, Wyoming. In this story, there is tension and discord amongst the holy brothers and tempers begin to flair.  The very patient and pious Father Abbot notices that his monks are not happy, so he prays to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“Father Abbot cries, ‘Hail Mary,

Help me lead this monastery.”

So Father Abbot goes about hearing the whole story of who did this and who did that to who. He then reminds the monks that we have to try as hard as we can to live together in peace. The monks grumble a little but then go to confession and take time to kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament. They all pledge to try to be nicer to each other. The final page is a quote from scripture:

“If it is possible,

as far as it depends on you,

live at peace with everyone.”

Romans 12:18

The message is simple, the story is simple, and the prose is simple.  Using rhyme and rhythm, Sylvia Dorham has cleverly created a story for young children that will engage and hold their interest while teaching them a simple but important lesson about forgiveness and getting along with others. In an interview, Sylvia Dorham spoke of how rhyme is a great way to help children learn.  Having homeschooled her ten children, Sylvia Dorham has learnt what works with children. And this picture book is proof of that.  The rhymes do not strain to work, but flow seamlessly and are really quite clever.

Another great aspect of this picture book is the full page, vibrant illustrations.  Apparently Christopher Tupa spent time at the monastery, observing the monks as they went about their daily business.  He has carefully recreated their clothing and captured the stark interior of the monastery very well.

I have not read the full series of books but I highly recommend that teachers, librarians and homeschoolers purchase this series of Catholic story books to sit on your bookshelves.  They are clever, high quality, entertaining and wonderfully Catholic in their orientation.

You can purchase your copy of The Monks Make Amends HERE.

Homeschool and Teaching Ideas

 

This would be a great book for either:

  • Lessons on vocations
  • Lessons about forgiveness and getting along.

The age range for this story is quite young but I’m sure there would be lots of questions about monks, monasteries and vocations in general.

I’d start with these beautiful images of the Monastery in Wyoming:

http://carmelitemonks.org/

And then this wonderful resource that describes the monk’s habit:

http://www.carmelitemonks.org/HolyHabit.php

Watch the monks in their various jobs:

http://www.carmelitemonks.org/LayBrothers.php

Beautiful footage of the monks adoring the Blessed Sacrament:

http://www.carmelitemonks.org/ChoirMonks.php

In response to these rich and beautiful images, I’d then ask children to either draw or write what it might be like if they were a monk for a day.  What job would they do?  Why that job?  What would it be like to wear the monk’s habit every day?

List out the vocations: Marriage, blessed singleness, priesthood, religious.  You might need to explain what each one is: then have a conversation with children about which vocation they think they might be drawn to.

Have a look at Molly McBride’s picture book review HERE.  I’ve included more ideas for teaching children about vocations.

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