To those who are familiar with the book published in the Quarterly Series under the title of First Communion, few words will be needed to recommend another work of kindred purport from the pen of the same gifted author. This also is a child's book, and it aims at bringing home to the minds of our little ones a sense of the responsibilities which follow upon the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, even as its predecessor dealt with the dispositions required for the worthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. The audience addressed is conceived as slightly more youthful than that contemplated in the former work. Stories and illustrations have been multiplied, and variety has been more consistently sought by means of questions and interruptions and snatches of dialogue, such as must naturally ensue when a narrator is chatting pleasantly to an audience of little folks who are both thoroughly interested and thoroughly at their ease. It is to this freshness of treatment and its patient adaptation to the slow workings of a child's mind that, in the judgment of the present writer, the great value of Mother Loyola's writings is mainly due. The real core of a child's intelligence and conscience is often singularly impervious even to the talk which interests him. Perhaps it would be truer to say that these two faculties are the last of all to quicken into life. No doubt it is a wise disposition of Providence that the opening bud is so shielded and wrapped round that the rain and sun can penetrate but slowly. It is hard for children to think at all, and harder still for them to think about themselves. "Being good" in their idea is constantly identified with avoiding scoldings, saying many prayers, burning candles before our Lady's statue, making the Nine Fridays, and other external practices, excellent in themselves no doubt, but giving no guarantee of stability. To know how to take a moral lesson to heart, to keep a watchful eye on failings, to carry out resolutions about the moulding of their own characters-this is what we most want to teach them. But these are things which even many grown-up people have never learnt to do, and which they too often regard as requiring an effort wholly beyond their power. If, then, we hope to a waken the moral faculties from early years, the task must be set about very deftly and very patiently. All violent methods are out of place. Here, if anywhere, an ounce of showing is worth a pound of telling. This is what the chapters which follow seem to me to accomplish so successfully. Even if its subject-matter were less important than it is, the book would be valuable to all engaged in moral instruction merely as an example of method. There are many of our children's books in which the value of stories and illustrations is recognized, but in which absolutely no attempt is made to assimilate the materials into a consistent whole. The stories may be good in themselves, and the scraps of instruction may be good in themselves, but they are merely thrown down side by side for the child to pick and choose as fancy may suggest. Thus presented they are as unpalatable as the ingredients of an ill-mixed pudding, and I fear often prove hardly more digestible. It is a part of what seems to me to be Mother Loyola's much more rational method not to be afraid of developing her illustrations. No doubt this requires space and trouble, and it may be thought that it wastes valuable time. Nevertheless, if but one of the lessons in such a book took firm root, no expenditure of energy could ever be deemed excessive. Children require to have comparisons and analogies worked out in detail. A mere allusion is lost upon them. If an impression is to be made they must be interested, though when the mind has once been set working they are often able to continue the process for themselves.
Mother Mary Loyola, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1484075935, ISBN 13: 9781484075937