Saturday, February 26, 2011

Writer's Digest Gives Olivia and the Little Way Top Ranking

Author: Nancy Carabio Belanger

Title: Olivia and the Little Way

Category: Middle-Grade/Young Adult Books

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “poor” and 5 meaning “excellent":

Plot: 5

Grammar: 5

Character development: 5

Production quality and cover design: 5


“The author paints beautiful pictures with her words. Olivia and Grandma sit out on the screened porch, surrounded by roses. One can almost hear the crickets!

The author does a lovely job explaining the facets of the Catholic faith. Explaining what a chaplet is, speaking of saints, all were interesting to the reader. Perhaps the most vivid memory the reader will carry with him is the lesson St. Therese has to teach. “Anyone can do something wonderful for God, no matter how little.” The reader understand that is the way in which one does those acts of kindness, that they do them with love in their heart. The reader was also entranced to learn that St. Therese had a special affection for flowers. She had written that she wanted to be a flower for God so He would look down on her and be pleased. Her favorite flower was a rose, because that is the flower she smelled from her bed. So, when one prays to St. Therese, it is not surprising that she will answer the prayer, somehow, using the rose as her “calling card.” The reader was surprised and delighted when she discovered the reason Olivia did not leave Sabrina and Hayley “behind” as she makes new friends. Olivia did not want to give up on two girls who really needed a good role model. This was because of St. Therese. The saint modeled behavior by finding good, even in the unkindest sisters.

Hayley soon appears in Olivia’s life, not as a new friend, but as an uncaring, self-centered tormentor. Olivia, like most children, falls prey to her need to be accepted by the kids she thinks are powerful. Along the way, though, she realizes her mistake and decides to be the kind girl she really is. The reader found the push/pull Hayley and Sabrina hold over Olivia and the other kids interesting and real…”

From Writer's Digest, 2010

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pro-life Theme In Catholic Fiction: Olivia's Gift Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 20 of Olivia’s Gift:

Olivia’s heart started to beat wildly. This wasn’t right. They weren’t supposed to be doing this. She thought back to Danny’s book. The Loggerhead turtle eggs were supposed to stay covered until they were ready to hatch, right? They shouldn’t be disturbing them in this way.

“Okay, you found the eggs!” she pleaded, desperate. “Now cover them back up and let’s go!”

The boys said nothing as Brandon picked up one of the eggs and held it in his hand. “Looks like a ping-pong ball,” he said with a grin. “It’s squishy. Wanna hold one?”

Olivia stared at him in the moonlight. “No way. Put it back.”

Brandon stood up. “Come on; it won’t bite. Here.” He gently placed it in Olivia’s palm. She stared down at it in shock, her eyes wide. She breathed heavily. This felt totally wrong, yet, after reading Danny’s book, she was curious. Was there really a baby turtle in there? She lifted her hand and peered at the tiny egg for a closer look. It was leathery and soft.

Okay. I looked at it. Time to put it back. She started to lower her hand and give it back to Brandon, but something stopped her.

It moved.

Olivia’s heart skipped a beat as she watched the tiny egg tremble back and forth in her hand. It rolled around a couple of times, then stopped.

The baby turtle was inside and it was moving!

Oh Lord, she cried inwardly. What have I just done?

Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…her mind raced. She suddenly thought of Mrs. Duggan and her baby moving and kicking inside her belly.

Doing somersaults. Alive.

“I don’t want this! Put it back. It moved! Put it back and cover them back up!” she demanded frantically. She gave it back to Brandon, trusting that he would do the right thing once he knew the truth: that there was a live baby turtle inside.

Next to her, Hayley gasped. “She told you it moved! Brandon, they’re alive! Put them back NOW!” cried Hayley.

Brandon held up the egg with a sinister look on his face. This was not about to happen. This was not…Olivia’s face grew white with horror.

copyright 2010 Nancy Carabio Belanger

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Indiana Teen Takes A Stand For Purity

I'm starting a new series on this blog called "Great Kids." They're normal kids who are doing great things for God. Caleb Beaverson, the Fishers, Indiana teen who wrote a rebuttal to his high school newspaper's article on "safe" teenage sex, is an example of a  Great Kid. Way to go, Caleb! It is a comfort to know there are brave teens like you who aren't afraid to take a stand!

 If you know of a Great Kid who is doing great things for God, e-mail me at

Re: Approaches to Sex Fail

Caleb Beaverson

After reading Hannah’s article in the January 21st N the Red, many of my fellow students and I would like to point out that her opinions on sexual education (and sex itself) are not equally shared across our student body. Therefore, I would like to provide some equilibrium to Hannah’s article, trusting you will be willing to print this point of view shared by many of my fellow students.
According to Hannah, we should “…get information to the masses so that our generation can improve and move past this time of excessive discretion.” What I understand her to be saying is that by more broadly and formally presenting the knowledge to teens of how to lose their virginity “safely” before they get married, we are somehow improving society. How is this an improvement to society? Since when is taking the path of least resistance in this aspect of our lives an improvement to society? Furthermore, it is irrational to state, as Hannah’s article does, that “more education” is the solution. What she’s saying is that there are teens in our midst, having pre-marital sex, who are unaware of the concept that condoms, diaphragms, and pills exist as a method of decreasing their odds of becoming pregnant. (Let’s not be so ignorant.) These methods can help reduce teen pregnancies; however it has, in fact, been proven that teens not having sex have a zero percent pregnancy rate, and no STDs. Imagine that!
According to the article, simply because we encourage young men and women to abstain from sex until they are married, we are now, as a society, in a time of excessive discretion. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, discretion is “the quality of having or showing discernment or good judgment.” The question to be answered then is this: How is it possible to have too much good judgment?
Hannah says, “With 22 percent of births in our country occurring in teens between the ages of 13 and 18, there seems to be some sort of lack of education as to how these teens could have prevented unplanned pregnancies.” What should be stated here is that, “With 22 percent of births in our country occurring in teens between the ages of 13 and 18, there seems to be some sort of lack of self control.” As has been the case for many children in our generation, we have been denied very little of whatever it is we wanted since a young age. Even if the decision to have ill advised sexual relationships may hurt others, or even ourselves, our desire is to run straight ahead anyway; for that is what we most desire at the time. Even if our physical intimacy doesn’t result in an unplanned pregnancy or other health-related, physically detrimental repercussion, many of the psychological outcomes of these decisions do not manifest themselves until some number of years down the road by way of destructive thoughts and emotions with our future spouse as we attempt to assemble a successful marriage. By giving in to the cultural assumption that “headstrong teens” are given to have uncontrollable sex as the default assumption, we are literally embracing the statistically proven fact that by doing so, we are putting a damper on the odds of having a successful, long lasting marriage – because of our inability to possess appropriate discretion.
According to, teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, be and remain single parents, and score lower in math and reading into adolescence. The most certain way of keeping this entire scenario from happening is to abide by the one surefire solution to this dilemma - stay away from sex until marriage. But the best part is that it’s doable! I’ll be a virgin when I’m married. It’s a gift I’ll give away to one very special woman – no regrets. My mom and dad managed to accomplish this “unavoidable”, natural act until they were married. My three uncles and their wives all made it to their marriage vows with their virginity intact. And, it’s not like they were social misfits without opportunity for their own lack of discretion. Rather, they were all teens who were active and popular students participating in and leading their way through high school and college as cheerleaders, drum majors for state championship marching bands, cross country & track team members, starting varsity baseball players, high school basketball players, collegiate baseball Team Captains, highly achieving academic students, and the list goes on. And from the evidence of what I’ve seen around me all my life, it is evident that abstinence also provides for more trusting relationships and provides for true intimacy between spouses.
Again, what we need is less societal endorsement on promiscuous, detrimental behavior and more self control. Let’s become the generation that bucks the trends, uses our minds before our hormones, and is known for honoring rather than using one another.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to have premarital sex is one that is up to each individual, regardless of what is taught in school. The root of the problem with teenage pregnancy stems not from a lack of education about alternative methods of preventing teen pregnancies given the “unavoidable” sexual escapades of teens, but rather from a lack of education in the time tested concept of thoughtful analysis of what is in our own best interest.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sadly Seen In Stores: On Innocent Babies

I saw it as soon as I entered the bib aisle of a big baby store. I suddenly forgot about the baby shower present I was shopping for when I came across this little gem:

"Oh no," I moaned aloud as I automatically began to fish around in my purse for my camera, (which unfortunately I must keep handy for occasions such as these). "Another Sadly Seen In Stores."

Believe it or not, I don't like when these moments occur while I'm shopping. It's not that I mind creating these excerpts on my blog, you understand. It's just that, along with writing (which is my passion) comes the bad and the ugly. And this baby bib is bad and ugly.

Even though it's pink.

It's not just sleazy t-shirts or undignified writing on the rumps of pre-teens that is available to our children. Now babies can get in on the act! Doesn't this just boggle your mind? Even babies aren't immune to the junk we adults expose them to. Innocent babies are now walking (okay, crawling...or just sitting) billboards for our ignorant and unintelligent whims. Would you EVER put any of these baby bibs on your child? Well, they're out there. Somebody must be purchasing them...and, sadly, wearing them.

Somewhere, somehow, humans lost their dignity. Planned Parenthood would know all about that. If our society can kill innocent children in their mothers' wombs, it should come as no surprise that babies can wear bibs that say:

Why do we always have to be saying something to the world? In Olivia's Gift, Brandon remarks with a roll of his eyes about his sister Brooke's obnoxious t-shirts, "She always has to be saying something to the world."

It's unreal that parents are actually buying these bibs for their babies to wear. What would Olivia's Grandma Rosemary say? don't wanna know!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wise Words During A Blizzard Warning!

‎"Older generations who never had a suntan in January were more satisfied with each day's weather as it came. As the Irish say when it is raining, 'It is a good day to save your soul.' " — Archbishop Fulton Sheen

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