Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: Panic in the Pews

A little while back I was given the opportunity to review Panic in the Pews: Do You Wreak Holy Havoc?written by Lisa Bergman and illustrated by 16 year old Erin Bartholomew.  The book takes a look at some unruly behavior that one might find exhibited by children at church.  While the premise of the book is to teach children what not to do at Mass, I wonder if it could inadvertently provide inspiration for children to get creative in the ways they disrupt.  Some children might see this book as a challenge.

The book has a nice rhyming prose about it.  Each disagreeable habit has a special character attributed to it.  After my first read through the book I wasn't sure it was a book that I would sit down and read to a young child, so I passed it off to my eleven year old to get her opinion.  She understood the premise of the book but didn't find it amusing.  In fact, she asked me if I thought the book was being judgmental .  That gave me pause.  I suppose, depending on how you approach the book that you might find it's tone to be uncharitable, even though I'm sure that was not the author's intention.  The book in pointing out these unsuitable behaviors is really intending to caution young children not to follow in the examples of these children who "wreak holy havoc."

The illustrations for this book are black and white drawings.  They remind me a lot of the ink drawings from the Le Petit Nicolas reader that I used to read in French class.  Each of the children in the story has their undesirable behavior illustrated quite well in a picture.   In many of the illustrations you can see those parishioners sitting near them who do not look happy about their antics.

Honestly, I'm on the fence about this book.  I think that some parents who struggle with children who don't want to behave at Mass might find this book to be humorous and may feel like they aren't alone when they read this book, but other's might come away from this book feeling even more self-conscious about their children's behavior at Mass.

I was provided with a review copy of Panic in the Pews by the publisher, St. Augustine Academy Press, in exchange for my honest review.  Visit St. Augustine Academy Press for more information on this title or to purchase a copy.

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