Melinda Johnson’s brand new book, Little Lost Nun, published by Park End Books, is the tale of a tiny peg doll. The little lost nun doll is important to the narrative, to be sure. But what happens because of the small doll – the bulk of the book – is really about big love. The characters and events surrounding the little nun reveal the hope and kindness that are available to every person who listens when God’s love tugs at their hearts.
Nina and Tabitha do not know each other well on the day that they visit the monastery. That is the same day that the little nun disappears from her spot in the peg doll nun procession to the little church found in the monastery garden. One girl is quite upset by the other’s actions (and she has no idea what that one’s life is like, or why she does what she does). One girl experiences a big loss (that might actually be a huge gain). The girls do not spend any time together again until the end of the book. But, oddly enough, together is where they each find the love and/or forgiveness that they need. And they find it back at the place where their struggle began: in the monastery.
It may not look like it at first, but this book is also about the power of prayer. Readers will get a whiff of monastic life, and will feel the peace that surrounds a “mother” (in this case, the gerontissa, the head nun) who has no children of her own, but chooses a life of prayer and dedication to God. They will also catch the scent that is left in the wake of a “mother” who cares little for her own child or about God, and could care less about praying. Even young readers will observe the stark contrast between these “mothers” and the aroma of that prayer leaves in its wake.
Melinda Johnson wove the words of this story so carefully that children can read (or hear) it and feel its warm embrace. But even grown readers will step away from this tale of a “lost” peg doll and tuck it into their pocket for later pondering. The story in these pages opens its readers’ eyes to losses (whether their own, or in the lives of those around them) and touches their hearts with the hope that comes through prayer and forgiveness.
(Thanks to Park End Books for the advance reader copy so that I could write this, and to Annalisa Boyd for the peg doll so that I could include her in my photo!)
Reviewed by Kristina Wenger, educator, podcaster, co-author of Tending the Garden of Our Hearts
You can buy this book at https://parkendbooks.com/shop/little-lost-nun/, and a Little Lost Nun peg doll (hand painted by Annalisa Boyd) at https://parkendbooks.com/shop/little-lost-nun-peg-doll/.
Kristina’s Note: A Cell for the Little Lost Nun Peg Doll
In the book Little Lost Nun by Melinda Johnson, one of the characters recycles things to create other nuns to keep company with a little peg doll nun. If you have a peg doll nun, you can do the same! If your little nun(s) needs a cell to live in, here is a pdf tutorial with some ideas of how to recycle things to make a cell.