Every Advent I get to go on a little shopping spree for the godchildren at the ever-reliable St. Francis Catholic Shop in Columbia.   One of the books I picked up was Lost In St. Peter’s Tomb by Dianne Ahern, illustrated by Katherine Larson.  (2006, Aunt Dee’s Attic, Inc.)  As I had four little children along for this trip, there was to be no pre-reading, but like any good godmother I did come home and read it myself before shipping it off.  Here’s my thoughts:


It’s edu-tainment.  This is the first in the Sister Philomena mystery series, about a sleuthing sister – secret agent for the Holy Father! — and her niece and nephew, visiting from America.  The story is fairly well-written for the genre (think Bobbsey Twins), although the point of view shifts somewhat unpredictably at times.  The color illustrations are nice enough – normal kids’ book illustrations, not retro-catholica as you would find in, say, a St. Joseph’s publication.  The Holy Father is never named, but in illustrations he very clearly resembles a young John Paul II. 


The topic of this first installment is a suspected intruder at the Vatican, and Sister Philomena has been called in to investigate.  The mystery itself is quite light.  Not scary, no real clues to help unravel things, more just a vehicle to advance the primary agenda of the book, which is to educate the reader.  Just enough suspense to keep you reading.  And what you are reading is an introduction to Vatican City and the history of the papacy.  Among other points, there are descriptions (and illustrations) of famous landmarks, and explanations by Sister Philomena of where in scripture we learn of our first pope.  The mystery itself takes the children into St. Peter’s Tomb, helping the young protagonist realize that St. Peter was a real live person who led a real, historical church, not some mythical hero shrouded in the mists of time.


I hope my nieces enjoy the story.  I’ll admit I myself kind of skimmed some of the geography lessons, and I never thought it was a particularly great piece of literature, but I did read it willingly and in one sitting.  I would guess the target reading level is middle to late elementary years, though I think an older reader might still enjoy it as a piece of relaxing entertainment.


Forgot to add a baby update:  Thank you all for your prayers, SB is recovering well with no difficulties.  And who you need to be praying for now (and my apologies for not posting this sooner) is baby AML, newborn baby to a local catholic homeschooling family, who had surgery on Friday.  Have not heard the update.  Please pray for a healthy baby, and for her five older brothers, parents, and extended family as they take care of her.