Book Reviews and Awards

Awards

Finalist in the “Children’s Religious” category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards

USA Best Book Awards Finalist seal
Catherine’s Pascha is a finalist in the “Children’s Religious” category of the 2015 Best Book Awards. The USA Best Book Awards were founded in 2003. Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of USA Book News, said this year’s contest yielded over 2,000 entries from both mainstream and independent publishers.

Interviews

In a 2017 blog post, Summer Kinard talks with Charlotte Riggle about Easter books, and Pascha for children, and the unique joys of her children’s favorite Easter book, Catherine’s Pascha.

In the 7 December 2015 edition of Ancient Faith Presents, Bobby Maddex interviews Charlotte Riggle, the author of the award-winning children’s book Catherine’s Pascha: A Celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church. The podcast is about 22 minutes long.

Author Maritza Martínez Mejía featured Charlotte Riggle in her April 2016 Author Spotlight Interview. Maritza also featured Catherine’s Pascha in her blog post about traditional Polish Easter baskets.

Online reviews

Orthodoxy in Dialogue: As an Orthodox mom of two young sons, I’m always eager to find new ways to engage their spiritual growth and development. I don’t know who was more excited to read The Saint Nicholas Day Snow and Catherine’s Pascha. … Surprisingly, they were an easy addition to our bedtime routine. It’s normally the same books over and over, but these took little convincing. Maybe it was a movement of the Spirit, the colorful artwork, or my helpful 3-year old, but for reasons unknown these books have become new favorites for my sons and me.

Kid World Citizen: It’s Pascha (Easter) and two little girls are trying to stay awake all night for the traditional service. Catherine (with her friend, who happens to be in a wheelchair) is nervous that she won’t be able to stay awake, or remember to say “Christ is risen!” in Russian. The excitement of playing with the candles, smashing the hard-boiled eggs, and eating traditional sweets gives us a glimpse into the customs of the Orthodox Easter celebration.

The Barefoot Mommy: It’s hard to find children’s books with characters who have disabilities (but where the disability is not the focus of the story.) I love that Elizabeth uses a wheelchair and leg braces, and participates fully in the service and celebrations.

Orange Marmalade: Suitable for ages 4 or 5 and up, this unusual book will provide a way for some children to exclaim, “That’s just how we do it!” and for others to get an insider’s glimpse of a completely different set of practices.

Charming the Birds from the Trees: If you are searching for a great gift to tuck into a special little one’s Pascha basket, look no further! Catherine’s Pascha is a delightful chronicle of the Feast of Feasts through the eyes of a very excited little girl.   Full of engaging text and vivid pictures, Catherine’s Pascha is sure to become a favorite for years to come.

Orthodox Christian Network: On one level, it’s the story of a single child, with a specific Paschal experience. Charlotte brings the character to life, along with the celebration in that fictional parish. On another level, it reaches deep into each reader, bringing, through the particularity of Catherine’s experience, the commonality that we all experience every year. We may not have ham and cheese sandwiches, we may not have hot dogs, we may not put the shroud on the altar at exactly the same time Catherine’s parish does, we may celebrate at dawn instead of midnight, but we all experience that spine-tingling, joyous resurrection in our own churches, and we remember ours through Catherine’s experience of hers.

My Little Poppies: Our family is Catholic, but I have always felt it important for our children to understand faiths of the world. I have wanted to introduce world religions into our homeschool for some time now, and Catherine’s Pascha was a perfect way for embark on this path. Folks, we loved this book. Catherine’s excitement for the Pascha celebration was contagious. My kids were enthralled with the text and illustrations, and they were so excited to see what was going to happen. Would Catherine fall asleep? Would her brother, Peter, wake up, or would he miss the entire celebration -junk food and all? Did the kids really get to hold a burning candle while at church and stay up all night long? Folks, my kids adored this book.

And don’t miss the customer reviews on Amazon.

The back of the book

His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh (GOA): Through an inspired interplay of text and image, author Charlotte Riggle and illustrator R.J. Hughes have created something truly wonderful: a story about a particular Paschal celebration that transcends its specificity and embraces the world. This little book has a deep heart and enormous vision, simple enough to engage young readers and profound enough to inspire their parents.

Matushka Wendy Cwiklinski, Orthodox Christian Religious Educator, Orthodox Church in America: Catherine’s Pascha provides a lovely depiction of the Orthodox Christian Easter celebration through a child’s eyes. It weaves a tapestry of the many cultures that are part of the Orthodox Church in the world, and is a great addition to both personal and public libraries!

Jane G Meyer, author of The Hidden Garden and The Man and the Vine: Catherine’s Pascha captures beautifully the enthusiasm and excitement a child feels and experiences on Pascha. The Feast of Feasts, the brightest day in the Orthodox Church, what wonderful subject matter to share with a child on any day of the year. My wholehearted congratulations on producing such a joy-filled book!

A note from R.J. Hughes

Copies of Catherine's Pascha, with colored pencils and other art supplies
The Orthodox faith is a faith of art in many forms. While my work was limited ot the visual arts, I wanted to, and hoped I did, create a rich, colored world that reflects the beauty of a Pascha service.

A huge thank you to Father John Troy Mashburn and St. John Orthodox Church in Memphis, Tennessee, for allowing me and Charlotte Riggle to model Catherine’s church on theirs, including inserting the icons that adorn their sanctuary, directly into Catherine’s sanctuary.

I am an artist, not an iconographer. Iconography (literally, “writing an image”) is a very specific form of art that takes many years of training. It is, really, a form of worship, where the resulting icon is not a picture or painting, so much as it is the result or record of each particular act of worship. I felt to mimic that by trying to draw a copy of an icon for this story would be to mock this ancient art form. By allowing us to model Catherine’s church, including the icons she saw, on theirs, I could keep the integrity of this form of worship, while still including it as a central part of Catherine’s church and Paschal experience.

The Orthodox Church includes some of the oldest and continuously used churches and art in the world. Icons in murals and frescos, illuminated manuscripts, chants and hymns, all can trace back, centuries, and even millennia. Many of the churches and patterns on these pages reflected some of these ancient designs. You can learn more about them by opening the Churches menu at the top of this page.

Credits

The icons at St. John Orthodox Church that I used as my models were created by Fr. Luke Dingman. You can learn more about Fr. Luke, his iconography, and his other artwork at his website.

The designs for the Pascha basket covers that you see in the illustrations in Catherine’s Pascha were created by Tracy Thallas of Practical Blackwork. You can see more of her historically inspired patterns at her Etsy store.

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