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AnneMarie Miller reviews a delightful new children’s book about a boy who wants to be an altar server.

Carrying a broom high as he walks across the living room, Arthur pretends to be an altar server … until he trips over his sister! Written by Theresa Kiser and illustrated by Mike Schwalm, Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server (Our Sunday Visitor 2022) is a fun story about a boy who dreams of becoming an altar server at Mass.




Whether he’s sneezing incense in the face of a girl during server training or knocking over a plant, Arthur fears that his clumsiness will keep him from this dream. This story thoughtfully walks through Arthur’s struggles and his priest’s guidance, and I’m sure it will comfort children and parents alike as they navigate their own struggles. The story marvelously captures both inspirational and silly moments in Arthur’s journey, and my young sons enjoyed the suspense of wondering whether Arthur would get to become an altar server or not.

The book’s illustrations are fabulous and really enhance the story’s humor. Additionally, there is an illustrated glossary in the back of the book which depicts the clothes that altar servers wear, as well as priestly vestments. I hope that future stories about Arthur will continue to utilize this feature, perhaps by including different articles that are used at Mass.

I enjoyed this story, yet I noticed a couple of minor areas that I wish would have been done differently. For example, two objects that Arthur uses—the thurible and the missal—are simply referred to as the “incense burner” and “the book.” However, this story struck me as a great opportunity to introduce the liturgical terms for these articles. Also, the priest’s dialogue seemed stilted in a couple of places.

Overall, though, I loved this book, and my kids could not get enough of it. My 4-year-old took it to naptime one day, and my 6-year-old brought it out during our family Rosary one morning. One of my sons dreams of being an altar server at Mass someday, and it’s wonderful to have a book which shows a young boy with the same aspiration. Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server is delightful, and hopefully Arthur will have more adventures in the future!

Ask for Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server at your local Catholic bookseller, or order from Amazon or the publisher, Our Sunday Visitor. This book is featured in the Catholic Mom 2022 Christmas Gift Guide.



Copyright 2022 AnneMarie Miller