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Megan Swaim reviews The Little Friar Who Flew, a children’s storybook about Saint Joseph of Cupertino.

With four little girls in our house, there’s a lot of talk about big feelings. For better or worse, most of those conversations (and the resources we’ve used for this) are focused on negative feelings, such as how to manage anger or jealousy. So I was really surprised when a sweet children’s book about Saint Joseph of Cupertino helped us have some truly beautiful conversations about the “big feeling” of joy. 

The Little Friar Who Flew, written by Patricia Lee Gauch and illustrated by Tomie DePaola (Ignatius Press), is a sweet and charming book. My four year old especially likes to through the pages, studying each vibrant illustration and pointing out little details. The story tells about the life of Saint Joseph of Cupertino, beginning with his childhood, his vocation as a friar, and then his later life.


Little Friar Who Flew


Even though this book seems geared to a younger crowd (it is a favorite of our preschooler, but wasn’t as attractive to our first- and fourth-graders), it still provided an opportunity for having some important conversations with our elementary-aged daughters (how others’ perceptions of us can impact how we see ourselves, being confident in our particularities and uniqueness, examining what makes us truly joyful, and how we share that joy with others).


Little Friar Who Flew interior


When I asked what made Joseph fly, our four-year-old immediately answered, “Because he was so happy!” It was a good chance to talk with her about how our bodies express our feelings (and a welcome break from the usual conversation about hitting). And when I asked her what made him so happy that he took flight, she knew the answer right away: “God!”

I truly did not expect to be talking with such a little one about the things that give us momentary happiness (“like ice cream!” she says) and the things that give us happiness forever. But she knew, instinctively, that the love of God makes saints do things that are extraordinary, and that crazy things can happen when God puts His joy right in your heart. 

I’d say that’s a pretty good outcome from a 10-minute family storybook!




Copyright 2022 Megan Swaim
Images: Canva; interior image from book copyright 2022 Ignatius Press, all rights reserved.