Sunday, 19 April 2009

Book Review: Heidi Bratton board books

Today I attended the Boston Catholic Women's Conference with my daughters (aged 1 and 3) and my husband, who was there to take some video footage for a special project he's working on for the archdiocese.

Especially nice among the various encounters of the day was meeting author, photographer and mother Heidi Bratton and her family, who live in the Fall River Diocese of Massachusetts. I bought four of her beautiful board books for the girls but not before having an extensive conversation with Heidi and her whole family. Heidi is lovely and we really connected as fellow mothers. Her children and husband were also charming to chat with and the children delighted in pointing to each of the books saying, "She's the little girl in those pictures," and, "He's the baby in this one," and "This one is me." They were very obviously proud of their mother's work.

All of the books feature beautiful black and white photography that really won my heart. As with the best picture books, these are as enjoyable for me to read and look at as they are for the children. I was initially resolved to limit myself to one book but just couldn't do it. The more I looked the harder it was to narrow my choice.


My favorite of the books was The Little Shepherd, pictures by Heidi Bratton text by Sally Anne Conan. A retelling in black and white photographs of the parable of the Good Shepherd. It opens with a photo of an ewe nuzzling a lamb and then follows a little boy with a shepherd's crook searching for a little girl who carries a stuffed lamb. The text is simple and charming and the pictures captivating. I especially liked that the book followed a hide-and-seek formula having the shepherd look for the sheep "over" and "under," "up" and "down."


Count Your Blessings pictures by Heidi Bratton text by Sally Anne Conan. This is, as the title suggests, a counting book that goes from 1 (Splashy Puddles) to 10 (Loving You). Little ones will love the simple rhymes and pictures of children and babies. My favorite photos were of a grandmother reading to two little boys (Cozy Places), a girl examining a butterfly-festooned Easter basket (Pretty Wings), a little girl kneeling to pray beside a bed covered with stuffed animals (Snuggly Toys), and a beautiful child's Nativity set (Someone New).


Spirit! by Heidi Bratton. Beautiful black and white photos of children with one word captions: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Gentleness, Self-control, Spirit. Perfectly matched pictures and text makes this a very meditative book for adults as well. The sort of pictures I often asked my students to use as writing prompts when I taught composition.


Little Ways to Give God Praise pictures by Heidi Bratton text by Sally Anne Conan. Rhyming text that expresses a child's spirituality, very reminiscent of the Little Way of St. Therese. Children praise God by clapping, dancing, singing, running, with others and alone, at church and at home, reading books and helping their parents. Mostly, by being themselves, childlike. A good meditation for moms and dads as well.

Heidi Bratton's books are available from Paulist Press and from Amazon: Heidi Bratton Books.

Friday, 3 April 2009

The Rosary for Little Ones

Don't miss this post by Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart for a wonderful idea to help small children pray the Rosary. Realising how easy it is for little hands to lose track of beads, even the large size ones, she made a set of crocheted roses. Her little girls keep count of the prayers by moving the roses from one basket to another. A set of rosary cards colour coded according to the mysteries gives them another hands-on focus.