Gather together with young friends and their furry companions to share A Taste of Paradise, written by Katherine Bolger Hyde and illustrated by Anastasiya Sokolova. Ancient Faith Publishing’s brand new picture book offers story after story of saints throughout history who have experienced comradery and even friendship with animals. Each spread of the book whisks the reader to a different time and space, ranging from Biblical times to recent eras. Readers will learn about the featured saint who lived in that place, and the beautiful way in which they interacted with animals.
The book is framed within the context of Paradise. It begins by reminding us that long ago, in Paradise, animals and people both walked and lived together in peace. Then, one by one, the book introduces each saint, capturing a glimpse of their friendships with animals. The book ends by inviting each reader to choose to befriend and more carefully tend to the animal (or animals) around them, thus helping to restore the beauty of Paradise.
Katherine Bolger Hyde’s masterful use of words is carefully exhibited, once again, in this book. Each saint’s story is told simply enough that young children can listen and enjoy it, but also complexly enough to engage older children’s interest. Between the text and the illustration, the reader feels completely surrounded by the reality of that saint’s life and interaction with God’s creatures. It is likely that readers of all ages will meet a “new” saint (or more) in these pages, and want to learn more about that saint and their animal friend(s).
Anastasiya Sokolova’s delightful use of watercolor splashes the book with rainbow hues. The saints are genuinely welcoming, like a friend the reader would really like to have in their own life. The animals are realistic, but enchantingly approachable. Joy and friendship are palpable in these illustrations.
This book will be read again and again, (and, probably, yet again) by anyone who loves saints, animals, and/or beautiful illustrations. And this reader, at least, steps away, inspired to treat God’s creatures with even more kindness. May we all imitate these holy saints, and do our part to help restore Paradise.
Purchase A Taste of Paradise here: https://store.ancientfaith.com/a-taste-of-paradise/
Reviewed by Kristina Wenger, educator, podcaster, co-author of Tending the Garden of Our Hearts