On Barb’s Bookshelf: The Strangers at the Manger

Here’s a book the whole family can enjoy together as the Christmas season winds down: The Strangers at the Manger by Lisa M. Hendey.

Number 5 in the “Chime Traveler” series of chapter books for kids in grades 2 and up (younger as a read-aloud), this novel finds twins Patrick and Katie traveling through time to Bethlehem, where they accompany Mary and Joseph through their attempts to find lodging and stay with them until the Holy Family flees to Egypt to escape Herod’s attempts on Jesus’ life.

Readers will feel as if they’re really there, encountering shepherds, Magi and even Anna and Simeon in the Temple. Hendey’s account of the Incarnation weaves Gospel stories seamlessly with the fictional addition of modern-day visitors who find ways to help Mary and Joseph take care of their newborn son. The stories incorporate a level of detail that will fascinate children who want to know what life was like during Jesus’ time.

Lisa Hendey’s devotion to the Blessed Mother is particularly evident in the way Mary is portrayed in the story.

Books in the “Chime Traveler” series always focus on a lesson the children must learn before they can return to their own families; this book centers on a refugee family seeking shelter in the twins’ parish church.

This series is published by Franciscan Media.

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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Book Review: Chime Travelers series for kids

For the past 8 years I have spent 1/2 day per week volunteering in the library of our local Catholic elementary school. I check books in and out, help kids find books, put books away, and talk with kids about what they like to read. In those 8 years I’ve seen , talked about, and read an awful lot of children’s books.

(Yes, I read children’s books. Sometimes it’s because the librarian has asked me to read something aloud to a class. Sometimes it’s because, as I was putting a book on a shelf, I was intrigued–so I’d take the book home.)

It’s a Catholic school library, but there’s almost no Catholic fiction in it. Except for Tomie dePaola’s picture books, I haven’t found any Catholic fiction in it.

chime travelers bannerThat’s about to change; I’m going to be donating copies of Lisa Hendey’s Chime Traveler series to the school library. And I’ll be talking them up when the first- through fourth-graders come in.

The first two books in the series were released today! I’ve read them both; they center on a set of twins who are thrust into adventures with saints from long-ago times. These adventures help the twins learn a life lesson related to something they’ve been struggling with.

chime travelers book 1

Book 1 is titled The Secret of the Shamrock. In this story, Patrick meets his patron saint, St. Patrick, and travels (with his frog in his backpack) across Ireland. On his journey, Patrick wrestles with the mystery of the Trinity and learns about trusting in God.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of that frog, though.

chime travelers book 2

Book 2, The Sign of the Carved Cross, tells the tale of Katie’s adventure as she journeys with St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Katie struggles with the popularity issues so many kids will relate to, trying to fit in with the “mean girls” by excluding others. Her encounter with St. Kateri will help her learn about true friendship and compassion. 

 These are fun stories, complete with mischief and humor, that feature the bonus of learning what it might be like to walk side-by-side with a well-known saint. The novels portray the saints as real people who become friends with Patrick and Katie and whom young readers will want as their own friends!

I’m glad to introduce these novels to young Catholic readers. They’d make great classroom novels or family read-alouds as well as being fun reads for independent readers getting their feet wet with chapter books. Kids will easily relate to Patrick and Katie, who try to be good but don’t always succeed and who struggle with the usual stuff: family, friends, chores and school. 

 I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the superb work done by illustrator Jenn Bower, whose art features a fun, lively, retro feel. The covers are totally eye-catching; I had the books on my coffee table one evening when a few friends came over, and everyone was picking them up. But there are more charming illustrations within the books as well.

Im a chime traveler

You can order the Chime Travelers books from the Amazon links above (the books are $5.99 each) OR you can purchase autographed copies directly from the author for only $5 each postpaid! Bulk orders save even more. Use this form for direct purchases

 
The fine print: I received advance reader copies of both Chime Travelers novels from the publisher, Franciscan Media, in return for my honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. Opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. 

 
More fine print: Links to the Chime Traveler books are Amazon affiliate links. Your purchase of a book using those links adds a little something to my Amazon piggy bank, but costs you nothing extra. 

 Image credit: Chime Traveler Kids page on Facebook. Used by permission of Chime Travelers author Lisa Hendey. All rights reserved.