Sunday, June 26, 2011

Catholic Press Awards Olivia's Gift

Catholic Press Association Awards Olivia's Gift, Harvey House Publishing

The Press Award banquet was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

Tel: 248/217-7495

Pittsburgh, PA (June 25, 2011)-Calling it a "story of the human spirit," the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada awarded Olivia's Gift (Nancy Carabio Belanger; Harvey House Publishing, 2010) at its centennial celebration and annual convention last night in Pittsburgh. The Catholic Press judges chose Olivia's Gift to be one of the winners in the category of Best Book By A Small Publisher. The 2011 Catholic Press Awards were held at a banquet at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Hotel, honoring newspapers, magazines, books, and publishers for their contributions to the Catholic press in 2010.

The sequel to Olivia and the Little Way, which won a Catholic Press Award in 2009, Olivia's Gift continues the faith journey of pre-teen Olivia, who has a devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux and tries her hardest to imitate the Little Way of serving God. The two multiple-award-winning books are now part of Catholic school and religious education curricula in schools and parishes in the United States and abroad.

"While it is a Catholic story by nature, this is a story of the human spirit and the fact that teenagers and young adults are already experiencing their own profound stories of faith and God...It is a refreshing and realistic reprieve from what teenagers today are currently very distracted by—vampires," the judges wrote.

Teachers agree that the Olivia books have made positive impacts on their students. "They have made a great transformation in my classroom," says a fifth-grade teacher from Virginia. "Many of my students have been bickering and after reading a few chapters from the book, they are trying to do small things with great love. One of the great things is that the boys in my class love them too!"
The author of Olivia's Gift, Nancy Carabio Belanger, says that was what she was striving for when she authored the book.

"There is so much darkness out there in the book section for kids," she laments. "I wrote Olivia's Gift so that kids can have something positive to read about their struggles and joys with faith, family, and friends. I want them to have good, wholesome role models from our Church who can lead them to God."

With beautiful illustrations by Sandra Casali LewAllen, Olivia's Gift celebrates the value of life and the true gift of the Catholic faith. "Children need to know what is virtuous, how powerful it is to live as a real Catholic. Olivia's Gift gives a new meaning and a new light as to how to live that kind of a life. I'm giving it to all of my students," says Marian Catechist and CCD instructor Susan Schoenstein.

"First and foremost, I am grateful to God, because without Him, I could not do any of this," says Carabio Belanger. "I am honored and humbled to accept this award from my peers at the Catholic Press Association." She says her prayer is to continue to write books for children and teens that explore and celebrate what it means to be a true Catholic.

"Olivia's story is the gift itself to young readers who may be in dire need of turning in a different direction other than popular fiction," the judges wrote.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Catholic Word For Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift


[dig-ni-tee] noun
1. Bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.

2. Nobility or elevation of character; worthiness: dignity of sentiments.

3. Elevated rank, station, office, etc.


If there is one word I would like kids to know, it is this one. You see, if you look around at our society today, there is a lack of it.

Yesterday at the grocery store, I saw a nice-looking young woman who couldn't have been more than sixteen or seventeen with a pink t-shirt on. There was a single word written across the front in large letters: SLUT.

I couldn't believe it. But now that I think about it, maybe I can. If you read my Sadly Seen In Stores posts, you understand. As I grabbed my grocery cart, I couldn't help but wonder what had happened in this girl's life that she would go around proclaiming to the world that very word. Did she really think she was one? Or was it her way of making a statement, trying to be funny? I so badly wanted to say something—anything—to her. Maybe I should have. But I wheeled my way into the store, trying to erase the image from my mind so I could concentrate on my grocery list. I found it difficult to do so.

You see, there was this loss of human dignity—hers—at that moment. And once a society erases that, it can let all sorts of things happen: abortion, euthanasia, bullying, you name it. And it has. Because once you have a loss of human dignity, there is no sacredness, no worthiness for the human person. God gave us this great dignity as human beings, and it is not something to throw away, back in His face. What this poor girl does not know is that she is a child of God, His own creation. We've all heard the saying, "God don't make no junk." This girl obviously thinks she IS junk, and that saddens me.

Dignity: Yes, it's a very Catholic word. As Catholics, we should all try our very best to honor that dignity in the way we act, dress, and speak. That is why it is so important to get this point across to young people, why I make it my business to teach about the meaning of this word to kids in my books Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift. I do it so kids don't grow up thinking that they have no self-respect or elevation of character: I do it so young ladies don't feel the need or the desire to wear a shirt that says: "I am worth nothing."

Because in God eyes, you are worth everything.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Excerpt from Olivia's Gift— Olivia's Clothing Temptation

I think you've seen enough of my Sadly Seen In Stores blog posts to know what young girls—and their parents— are up against when they go shopping. Some of the clothing styles are downright disgusting, and designers know exactly what they are doing when they target them to young girls. But how can we teach our youth that dressing in this way is harmful, that God wants so much more than for them to be wearing clothes that take away the great dignity they have as young ladies? In Olivia's Gift, Olivia is tempted the same way many other girls are, deciding between right and wrong, and modest and immodest clothing choices:

Brooke handed her a pair of short-shorts. "Try these on. Super cute. They have the name of the yacht club on the back."

One look at the shorts Brooke was holding up and Olivia knew they were way too short. The writing was right on the seat of the shorts. Her parents would never approve. But she didn't want to admit this to Brooke.

"Come on, I have the same ones. Try them on," Brooke urged.

Olivia couldn't say no. Reluctantly, she took the shorts from Brooke.

"Don't you care what my opinion is?" Hayley wanted to know.

Olivia didn't want to know because she already knew what Hayley's opinion was. It was obvious form the frown on her face.

Olivia tried to close the door to the fitting room so she could change, but Hayley nudged her aside and moved inside, closing the door in Brooke's face.

"Are you crazy?" she whispered. "Your parents will kill you!"

Olivia waved her off. "They're not going to know," she said, exasperated.

Truthfully, Olivia did have a pit in her stomach at the thought of disobeying her parents. But the shorts were trendy and fashionable. It would be fun to have something cool like the other girls wore. How she would actually find a way to wear them was another'd she'd just figure out later.

She glanced at the shorts. She'd heard enough of the Thomas family "modesty speeches" to know that her parents and grandma would disapprove instantly.

"Hayley," Olivia whined, "you just don't get it."

"Oh, I get it all right. And you're going to get it from your parents if they see you wearing those.

Olivia picked up the short-shorts and admired them. They were just like all the cool girls were wearing, with sayings on the bottom. This pair said, "BYC Diva" in pink, glittery writing. It would be fun to be a diva, right? But what did it mean?

Then she felt that voice that she was beginning to know so well.

Your dignity is a gift from God.
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