Friday, October 8, 2021

Book Review: Fulton Sheen and the Very Bad Week {Plus a free companion activity book!}

Do you know the story of when young Fulton Sheen was altar serving and dropped the wine cruet during Mass? He  happened to be in a cathedral (St. Mary's in Peoria) serving for a bishop (Bishop John Lancaster Spalding), making the mistake even more memorable. This is one of my students' favorite stories of Sheen, I think because it makes him so relatable- they all know what it is like to make a mistake. They also love that afterwards he didn't get in trouble, but instead received from the Bishop a prediction of the plans God might have in store for his future.

As they look to the Saints, kids can benefit from remembering that the saints were all once children themselves. Most didn't achieve heroic virtue immediately, and all give witness to how following God changed the course of their lives. However, biographies that contain real details from the childhood of Saints are pretty hard to come by.

That's one reason that I am so excited to share with you Bonnie Engstrom's brand new book Fulton Sheen and the Very Bad Week! Sharing true stories from the childhood of little Fulton, Bonnie created a collection of tales that are real and relatable for today's kids. Each of the stories is adapted from events Sheen wrote about in his autobiography Treasure in Clay. (affiliate links)

This book is super fun to read aloud. With a recognizable days-of-the-week format, the rhythm of events connects with wonderful storytelling. The full color watercolor illustrations on every spread enhance the book. They share rich details and are based on real locations and photographs. I also love the little hidden symbols and connections to Sheen, which are revealed in a key at the end- they are perfect for going back to search for!

Most importantly, the theme that God is with us, is so close to us, even in our "very bad" moments is taught to the reader. Fulton's mom and dad and the Afterward of the book reveal that His plans are far bigger than what we might see in our current circumstances. The Lord is calling us to Himself through our particular path to holiness, and that is a message I want every kid to hear.

I've taught about Fulton Sheen in my 5th-8th Grade classrooms over many years, and have collected those resources into the Teaching with Fulton Sheen Curriculum. However, there aren't as many resources available for our younger kiddos, which makes this book a perfect tool for Kindergarten through 4th graders. To help expand its impact in homes and classrooms, I had the honor of working with Bonnie and the illustrator Mari to create a companion activity book that we all are so excited to offer you for FREE!

The activities are intended to be a companion to Fulton Sheen and the Very Bad Week with matching fonts, illustrations, and topics. The pages start simple and easy and get more challenging, offering a range of activities for K-4th Grade. 

The activities work on basic skills like copywork and coloring, but also include reading strategies like matching, sequencing, and recalling facts. The pages for older kids include reflection prompts and room to write.

Within the activities, kids will come to know Fulton Sheen, but more importantly grow in understanding of the love that God has for each one of us. You can see a preview of the activity pages below, and the full pdf also includes a couple more coloring pages, a table of contents with recommended ages, a letter to teachers and parents, and an answer key for the necessary activities. :)

I hope you consider adding  Fulton Sheen and the Very Bad Week to your home or classroom library! It would also make a great Christmas gift for your nieces and nephews, godchildren, and grandchildren. Plus, you can print and include a copy of activity book too!

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, pray for us!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! We'll be using this in our faith formation classes this year!! We are trying a gentler approach to formation using a text, but also lots of the wonderful Catholic children's books that have been published in recent years. Bonnie's new book will be among them!