Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Olivia's Gift—A Review From A Young Reader

Olivia’s Gift is the story of a girl who spends the summer with her family and friend Hayley at her aunt’s summer house on the beach. I became closer to St. Therese by reading Olivia’s Gift and felt that I am like Olivia in similar ways. I really recommend this book because the story is so interesting, and deals with real-world stuff. I asked myself, “Would I do the right thing or would I do the wrong thing, if it was me?” The book is worth reading because it keeps you thinking. It was so good, I couldn’t put it down! I can’t wait to read the next book, and hope the story is made into a movie.”

Alyssa, age 11, 6th grader

Friday, March 18, 2011

Olivia's Gift Wins Royal Dragonfly Book Award



Linda Radke, Five Star Publications

Phone: 480-940-8182



CHANDLER, AZ (March 18, 2011) – The judges of the first annual Royal Dragonfly Book Awards contest, which recognizes excellence in literature, have spoken, and Olivia's Gift by Nancy Carabio Belanger of Harvey House Publishing, won second place in the Children's Chapter Book category. Olivia's Gift also earned honorable mentions in the categories of Cover Design and Illustrations.

“Winning any place in the Royal Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order to maintain the integrity of the Dragonfly Book Awards, a minimum score is required before a 1st or 2nd place or Honorable Mention will be awarded to the entrant – even if it is the sole entry in a category,” explains Linda Radke, president of Five Star Publications, the sponsor of the Dragonfly Book Awards. “Competition is steep, too, because there is no publication date limit as long as the book is still in print.”

Olivia's Gift is the sequel to the popular Catholic children's novel, Olivia and the Little Way, which is used in Catholic school curricula. It retails for $12.95 and can be purchased at, bookstores nationwide, and

For a complete list of winners including all first and second place and honorable mention recipients, visit and click on “Winners.”

The second annual Royal Dragonfly Book Awards contest is already underway. Submissions postmarked December 1, 2011 or earlier are eligible for the Early Bird reward: a free e-copy of The Economical Guide to Self-Publishing or Promote Like a Pro: Small Budget, Big Show. Final deadline for submissions is February 1, 2012. The Chocolate Dragonfly Book Awards Contest, which is open to any and all books about or relating in some way to food, has also launched. Submissions postmarked June 1, 2011 or earlier are eligible for the Early Bird reward, with the final deadline for submissions on August 1, 2011. For complete rules and submission forms, visit

The Royal and Chocolate Dragonfly Book Awards are part of the family of Five Star Dragonfly Book contests, which include the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, honoring children's books; the Green Dragonfly Book Awards, saluting books that create awareness of the environment and eco-friendly living; and the Dragonfly eBook Awards, which celebrate eBooks. For more details on all Five Star Dragonfly contests, access Five Star Publications can be reached at or by calling 480-940-8182.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Great Kids: True Love Leads To Life!

Readers, I've found another Great Kid! He's a sophomore in high school who is doing his part to protect the rights of the unborn. The following is a blog he wrote on the new pro-life blog I encourage you to visit this life-changing blog and see what you can do to encourage others to choose life as God intended.
Andre J. Bottesi, age 16, is the co-author and illustrator of the Catholic teen book, Your Teen Apostolate: Accepting and Sharing the Love of God (Rochester, MI; Joseph Karl Publishing, 2009), which was named 2010 Best Children's Book and 2010 Best Family Life Book by the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

Stepping out of the car I felt the cold surround me, which made me wish I had brought better gloves. The pain from the cold was nothing compared to the pain in my heart. I grieved for the children that have died in the abortion clinic that I was standing in front of, and because of the pain the mothers, fathers, and family felt after the death of their young child. Some people say that it isn’t a baby before it is born, but how can you say that?
The baby’s heart beats inside its mother and it can dream before it is born. That baby is a human and has been one since it was conceived. When you want to plant an apple tree you put the seed in the ground and once it starts to grow and is springing up from the ground you don’t just rip it apart and destroy it. Abortion does just that to a baby before it is born. It is wrong to kill and it always will be. There is no justification for killing such an innocent life.
As I thought about that, we joined the others who came to pray and show others what evil abortion is. The people who came were so nice and caring. They know the truth and so do I; awakening others to the truth and stopping this evil is of extreme importance to this world.
My mom talked to the others about what we were going to do while we were there. One of them handed me a sign and I walked to the corner of the easement by the road and held it up with great sorrow and also with great pride. I know the truth and the truth must be told.
I saw someone pull into the parking lot of the plaza. I saw a woman in the car with a man and I feared the worst. They did not go into the clinic but into the sub shop next door. I am relieved, but then sickened because the thought came to me that there were people eating subs right next to the slaughterhouse of children.
Cars passed by and I returned to facing the street and showing the oncoming traffic my sign. Some people honked and waved in approval of what we were doing. Others, particularly teens and young adults, give us a thumbs down or cupped their hands over their mouths and booed at us. A few said horrible words as they passed by. They used their words to do damage to others while we used our words to try and save lives.
I feel bad for those young people who passed by and discouraged us. They don’t know the truth, and they could be the next victims of abortion. Some are not as fortunate as I am to have learned the truth at an early age, that abortion is evil. We need to teach the youth of today about such things to protect them and everyone they could impact with their actions. We need to reach out and teach the truth, because if we don’t, who will?
We, along with the others who were outside of the clinic with us, began to pray the Rosary. I was given the honor of leading one of the decades. I felt foolish when I forgot a part of one of the prayers, but the others helped me remember and then I didn’t feel so bad.

If you don’t know a certain prayer or don’t know how something is done, you have nothing to worry about. The people around you will help you and guide you in the right direction. When I first went to the clinic I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know what to do. The others who were there showed me what to do and after beginning, I felt like I really knew what I was doing.
If you don’t know a certain prayer or don’t know how something is done, you have nothing to worry about. The people around you will help you and guide you in the right direction. When I first went to the clinic I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know what to do. The others who were there showed me what to do and after beginning, I felt like I really knew what I was doing.
My trip to the abortion clinic was thought provoking and special to me. I sometimes feel that I am powerless to stop abortion. I feel that alone I will not make a difference. I remind myself that this is not true. When people don’t vote in an election they most likely feel that their one vote will not make a difference. If everyone had this mindset then who would be left to vote?
The same is true about being against abortion. Every person makes a difference in ending this tragedy that is devastating our country. Every prayer is important and every prayer matters. Every protester standing outside the abortion clinic has a great impact on ending abortion. You matter and so do every one of your prayers and contributions.
I may be just 16, and in the eyes of the government I am not an adult, but I can still make a difference in ending abortion. I will not sit down and watch television all day while my brothers and sisters are dying before they even get to live. From before you are born to before you die you have a right to life. Whether you are one or one hundred it makes no difference. Everyone has an equal right to life and everyone is equal. Life begins at conception and once God creates that life, it must be defended to its dying breath.

Model of an unborn child in an adult's hand.
An unborn baby is not a blob of tissue but is a real human person.

All photos and content copyright 2011 Joseph Karl Publishing

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shrove Tuesday, Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus

"Jesus, Your ineffable image is the star which guides my steps. Ah, You know, Your sweet Face is for me Heaven on earth. My love discovers the charms of Your Face adorned with tears. I smile through my own tears when I contemplate Your sorrows."

—St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
August 1895, in her "Canticle to the Holy Face"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Perfect First Communion Gifts For Girls and Boys

First Holy Communion time is quickly approaching. Boys are trying on suits and ties, and girls are shopping for dresses and veils. It's a special time of year for parents and their children, to be sure. Parents, grandparents, Godparents, and other family members strive to find meaningful gifts for the children on such an important day, gifts that are appropriate for the occasion (nix the Legos, iPods and video games this time, please!). They are searching for gifts that will help their children grow spiritually and celebrate our Catholic Faith. Books can be educational and fun gifts for First Holy Communion, and I have selected several that would be perfect for children during this most holy time in their lives:

Our Treasure, by Michele Elena Bondi

This award-winning (Catholic Press Association) hardcover picture book from Catholic publisher Joseph Karl Publishing asks First Communicants where our true Treasure can be found. It's a fun way for kids to learn about the search for what truly matters in our lives, with delightful illustrations by Kristina Pope. It is a great keepsake book and would be perfect for classrooms. Those who are preparing children for their First Eucharist will find this book a joy to share with their students. Available at and at its website (above).

Olivia and the Little Way, by Nancy Carabio Belanger
Olivia's Gift, by Nancy Carabio Belanger

I just had to include my first book, Olivia and the Little Way, because introducing boys and girls to the Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux is my passion and are very popular as First Holy Communion gifts. Young Olivia learns how to deal with bullies and being the new kid in town with the help of a friendly saint, the Little Flower, who guides her on a spiritual journey of sacrifice, love, and forgiveness. Visit and other retailers. Also be sure to check out the pro-life, pro-family sequel, Olivia's Gift, where Olivia continues her faith journey with St. Therese while on summer vacation with her family.

Both illustrated books are enjoyed by girls and boys alike. Many boy readers write to tell me how much they can relate to Olivia's struggles, as well as the boy characters in the books.  Both books are used in Catholic classrooms, home schools, CCD classes, book groups, and Catholic clubs.  Teacher/parent discussion questions are available for free by contacting  Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift are both award winners from the Catholic Press Association, and have received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval, which evaluates books on their faithfulness to Catholic Church teachings.

Where Do Priests Come From?, by Elizabeth Ficocelli
Where Do Sisters Come From?, by Elizabeth Ficocelli
The Green Coat: A Tale from the Dust Bowl Years, by Rosemary McDunn

I can't say enough about these two gems from Catholic publisher Bezalel Books, above! With captivating illustrations by Shannon Wirrenga, both books explain religious vocations in simple, easy-to-understand, and down-to-earth language, with a bit of humor as well ("And yes, when a priest goes to bed, he even wears pajamas!"). It shows the process of people who are called by God to enter the seminary or the convent. You never know who might be called to the religious life after reading these fine books. Both books are a truly charming, and perfect for the classroom! Visit

Also from Bezalel Books: Be sure to check out Author Rosemary McDunn's The Green Coat. The twelve-year-old main character is a true role model for young girls as she learns to lean on God during the hard times of the Dust Bowl years. The bravery of this young heroine is remarkable, and McDunn's writing talent shines on every page as she describes the pain and hardship people had to endure during this difficult time in American history. One of my personal favorites!

Be sure to visit the above websites to learn more about these and other encouraging, delightful books from Catholic publishers. I just know your children, grandchildren, Godchildren, and students will be pleased to receive them.

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