So I’m finding that one of the perks of being a parent is that you get to re-read all the books you loved as a kid.Â In the last few months, I’ve followed Harold on his nighttime adventures (accompanied by the purple crayon and the deserving pie-eating porcupine, of course).Â Â I’ve also been re-introduced to the sheer brilliance of Dr. Seuss, who somehow never grows old, no matter how many times an eager toddler thrusts Hop on Pop into your hands.Â Â There’s also the iconic Goodnight Moon, which was the livre du jour for a great many evenings last summer.Â It’s such a gentle way to unwind, to ease a toddler into sleep.
Having kids is also an excuse to prowl the kids’ section of the bookstore.Â For Matthew’s first Christmas, I gave him an inscribed copy of The Runaway Bunny.Â I loved it as a kid, and now it can actually move me to tears.Â Lukey’s book last Christmas was The Story of Ferdinand, which ranks right up there in my literary affections.Â You’ve got to love any story that has a pacifist bull as its protagonist.
So yes, I’m a sucker for children’s books.Â And, at the moment, my favorite Mary book happens to be a picture book meant for the under-twelve crowd.Â It’s a gorgeous story called Take it to the Queen: A Tale of Hope by Josephine Nobisso.
Take it to the Queen is an allegory meant to highlight Mary’s role as intercessor.Â It tells the story of a village whose inhabitants turn their backs on the king, distancing themselves from his wisdom and goodness.Â As a result of misguided choices, they end up close to famine and ruin.Â In the end, the ask for the queen — a native daughter of the village– to intercede on their behalf.Â WIthout giving away too much of the story, let me just say that 1) it ends happily, and 2) it’s a vivid illustration of the unique role that Mary can play in our spiritual lives.
The story itself is very detailed, and rich in symbolism.Â The flaps of the book offer an explanation of the story’s symbolic elements (a good thing; even I, an English teacher, didn’t catch all of them).Â It’s the kind of story you can read and re-read and find something new each time.Â The illustrations (by Katalin Szegedi) are positively sumptuous; they’re the most gorgeous pictures I’ve seen in a long time, incorporating painting and collage.Â There’s a real method to the artist’s choices; for example, we never see the actual face of the king (who, of course, represents God).Â Â I like that.
This is definitely one for the family shelf.Â You don’t even have to have kids to enjoy it … all you need is a sense of wonder, and a heart that is open — even just a bit — to Mary.