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Kathryn Swegart reviews a new picture book from OSV Kids that doesn't talk down to young readers.

At first glance, one might guess that this children’s book is a comic-book version of Catholic theology. Don’t be fooled. Author Theresa Kiser masterfully balances an engaging story with solid teaching on the Eucharist in Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server Rings the Bells. 


Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server Rings the Bells


Young readers will identify with Arthur, a clumsy altar boy who accidently bumps into the priest while carrying the processional crucifix. As he tries to light a tall candle, the stand falls over. Arthur means well, but nothing seems to go smoothly for him. 

One Sunday, Arthur gets his chance to ring the bell at the Consecration. Prior to Mass, Father Cruz talks with Arthur about the miracle that occurs at the Consecration.

“It is no longer bread and wine. It becomes Jesus’ own Body and Blood.” 


Arthur takes that teaching to heart. The author brings a sacred moment to life with clear writing.

“He was barely breathing, just looking at the Eucharist. It looked like bread and wine, but it was truly God.”


Awe-struck, he forgets to ring the bells. Later, Arthur has a conversation with his father about the sacrifice of Jesus who gave His life out of love for us. 

Arthur gets a second chance to ring the bells and this time his heart is filled with joy as he rings the bells triumphantly. 

Kiser includes a back section on Eucharistic facts, explained with simplicity. Artist Mike Schwalm captures the spirit of Kiser’s story, filling the pages with bold colors. 

I wish this book was written back when my children were young. Those were the days when the main message for children was that Jesus is your friend. Well, of course He is, but dig a little deeper. Children can handle the beautiful truth that God became man and dwelt among us. 

Be grateful for books that don’t talk down to children. Learning about the faith becomes a fun experience thanks to book like Kiser’s sweet tale. I recommend this as an inspiring gift for First Communion—or you might want to add this book to your Christmas list.  

Ask for Arthur the Clumsy Altar Server Rings the Bells at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, OSV Kids.



Copyright 2023 Kathryn Swegart
Images: Canva
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