Wednesday, September 25, 2013

12 of Our Favorite Dragon Picture Books

Dragons and knights are commonly connected to the Feast of Michaelmas, which is coming up soon at the end of September. In honor of that day, since we are already huge fans of dragons in this house, I thought we might share with you some of our favorite children's picture books featuring dragons + knights. 

Though the dragon in the Michaelmas celebrations is, of course, the devil and therefore, evil, most of the dragons to be found in these stories are rather nice, kind, and even a bit silly. And, of course, they are perfect for any day of the year when you're in need of a good dragon tale.

Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges + illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Obviously perfect for the feast of St. George in April, this book is a true good versus evil dragon story. A favorite on our shelves, it is a beautifully illustrated and wonderfully retold version of the classic St. George tale. My 3 year old will sit through the whole story, but it is rather long, so keep that in mind when planning to read aloud to littles.

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin + illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
This past summer, this book definitely made our "read 1000 times" list. The boys think it hilarious, and I have to admit, it is rather clever. It answers the what, why, and how questions about what dragons love (tacos, obviously), why they don't love salsa, and how much they truly do love tacos and taco parties, for that matter. Disclaimer: it does use the word "hate" frequently, so if you're holding off having that a part of your kiddO's vocal, prepare to substitute.

The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaola
Knights fight dragons - it is age old fact. Mr. dePaola puts a spin on the ancient expectations with a tale of a knight and dragon who each prepare to fight, and then decide to cooperate and work together instead with a surprising and fun end twist. And of course, the illustrations are by one of our very favorite, so what's not to love?

The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer
This book is more about knights than dragons, but it's still a favorite, so I had to include it. A little boy dreams about living "1000 years ago" and his daydreams take him to working as a squire for a brave knight. They do fight and vanquish the dragon, but when they get to the troll... let's just say the little boy decides he's glad he doesn't live 1000 years ago.
There is implied death, but no actual showing of it in the illustrations.

The great, great, great, great, great, great, great-grandson of King Arthur is turning six and figures it's about time to show off his stuff. So, off on a journey he sets. He challenges one beast after another (one of which is a dragon), and they take his "fight to the death" approach in a different way ready for a game of chess, a smoke ring blowing contest, and a staring contest. After realizing he wants more, each one sends him to a more fearsome match. Finally, he realizes that though he has yet to conquer any beasts, he has made several new friends.

Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el + illustrated by Tim Bowers
This definitely falls into the "silly" category and is another one that had my boyOs laughing. Crispin Blaze is turning 7 and should be finally able to breathe fire, but when he opens his mouth to try, everything but comes out. First bubbles, then band-aids, and whole line up of silly objects. At the beginning his parents are both worried and embarrassed by their son's lack of dragon talent, but by the end, they are so proud of his super special ways.

Too Hot to Hug! by Steve Smallman + illustrated by Cee Biscoe
Rupert is out gathering firewood one day when he discovers a glowing and warm egg. Bringing it home to show his parents, they discover it's a dragon who is warm and cuddly to touch. Crumpet becomes a part of the family keeping them all warm through the winter, but when warmer weather approaches, Crumpet starts getting too hot to hug. Thankfully, Rupert finds a solution, so Crumpet can stay with them.

When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore + illustrated by Howard McWilliam
A little boy's imagination goes wild as he builds a sandcastle on a family trip to the beach, and of course, a dragon moves in. They roast marshmallows, fly kites, and enjoy an all around great day together. One thing to note: the boy does do a few things (i.e. throw sand at his sister) that he then blames on the imaginary dragon, which was something I ended up talking to my son about. The imagination part of the story is great though as the boy takes seagull feathers and other objects to use in his playing out.

A Dragon Moves In by Lisa Falkenstern
Another dragon moving in story - this time Rabbit + Hedgehog are enjoying a nice little picnic when all of a sudden the rock that Rabbit is sitting on starts to break open. Of course they bring the little guy home and discover that although their new friend is lots of fun, he also starts to grow and grow until he no longer fits in their house. They work together to find a solution though, and all is well. A sweet tale of friendship and working through problems.

Hush, Little Dragon by Boni Ashburn + illustrated by Kelly Murphy
Sung to the tune of "Hush, Little Baby" this book covers all the things a mama dragon might do to get her baby to go to sleep. I would say it could be on the darker side of humour since some of the baby dragon's treats include a couple of knights and a king, but there are no details illustrated, and if your child knows that dragons like to eat people, they probably will enjoy.

East Dragon, West Dragon by Robyn Eversole + illustrated by Scott Campbell
Two dragons live on opposite sides of the world. They've never met, but they've already made up their minds to dislike each other. The Western knights travel Eastward, and after a misunderstood fiasco end up writing to their own West Dragon to come rescue them. Thus East + West dragon meet, and they realize they don't dislike each other all that much and thus begins a beautiful friendship.

A child's basic beginning mythology book told in the beautiful illustrations of Eric Carle. Poems accompany fantastical pictures of dragons, unicorns, krackens, and the like. This is a great starter book to opening up the magical realm to your child's imagination. 

Are there any dragon books you would add to the list? What are your kid's favorites? Please share in the comments!


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This post 12 of Our Favorite Dragon Picture Books first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 25 September 2013 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Celebrating the Feast of Michaelmas

One of the Feasts I have most been looking forward to celebrating this Liturgical Year in our Domestic Church is Michaelmas. Michaelmas, or the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels, is observed on September 29th - this year it will be next Sunday! LegenDaddy has a special devotion to St. Michael, and the Prayer of St. Michael has been a part of our bedtime prayers with the boyOs for awhile now.

Pronounced "MICK-el-mus," this feast was a Holy Day of Obligation up until the 18th century. Since it's establishment in the 5th century, Michaelmas has been a great day of importance and has many traditions from European countries. It not only celebrated the archangel, but it also marked the end of harvest and the beginning of Autumn. It is one of four holy days that mark the seasons (the others are Christmas, the Feast of the Annunciation, and St. John's feast day).

There are 7 archangels of the Church, but Michaelmas specifically celebrates Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. The latter two were only celebrated to this day in the 20th century - in previous years they were celebrated on other days.

Andrei Rublev's standalone depiction c. 1408

St. Michael's name means "Who Is Like God," which also is his war cry. He is the defender of the Church and the Christian faithful. Gabriel, the "Hero of God" or the "Strength of God," is the archangel that most Christians have heard of since he was the bringer of the news of Christ's coming to the Virgin Mary. St. Raphael is only mentioned in the Book of Tobit, and his name means "God has Healed."

We will be celebrating this as a major feast, complete with a celebratory dinner meal, and an activity or two. You can take this Feast Day as simple or complicated as you want, but I do recommend learning a little about it if you never have before. Remember that you don't have to go all out - go at your own pace with what works for your family and home life. Take some time to figure out how you can best celebrate this Feast Day, and enjoy it!

Michael (left) with archangels Raphael andGabriel, by Botticini, 1470

There are many traditional foods associated with Michaelmas, so I will highlight a few. We will probably not be making all of these, but this will give you some options!

St. Michael's Bannock is a Scottish tradition. It is a griddle cake which all in the household, servants and master alike, ate a piece of. We'll be using the recipe I found in A Continual Feast (by Evelyn Birge Vitz), but a similar recipe is found at Catholic Culture.

Goose is the traditional main course, but turkey, duck, or chicken will do just as well. I'm not sure I'll be able to find a goose, but we might splurge and get a duck.

We're going to try it with this recipe, also from Catholic Culture: Michaelmas Goose with Potato Apple Stuffing. Apples are perfect, too, since they are an autumnal food.

Carrots have been long associated with St. Michael - in Scotland bouquets of carrots tied with red ribbons were given to guests. Since they also encourage good eyesight with their healthy vitamins, you can also think of St. Raphael, the Healer.

For dessert Angel Food Cake could be fun, yet a more traditional route would be to go with blackberries.

An old folk tale tells of how when Satan was cast from heaven, he landed amongst the brambles. Every year at Michaelmas, he spits upon the blackberry bushes making them inedible thus meaning that to enjoy blackberries, one must do so before he does so.

We'll be enjoying Michaelmas Dumplings (recipe from Lavender + Lovage), but any blackberry dessert would do. You could even serve straight berries with fresh whipped cream on top!


Two other great posts with recipes, links, and more are here:

Gabriel making the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. Painting by El Greco, 1575 (Museo del Prado,Madrid)

Crafts + Activities

Color in one or more of these beautiful coloring pages by Waltzing Matilda.

A variation on this fun Carrot craft from A Journey Through My Loves: make the carrot accordingly but instead of using the poem there, add the St. Michael prayer, or just write "St. Michael, protect our home."

Listen to Cantata for Michaelmas Day by Johann Sebastian Bach

Make your own sword (Activity Village) and shield (Crack of Dawn Crafts) and dress up like St. Michael.

Colors to keep in mind:
St. Michael - gold or orange
St. Gabriel - silver or blue
St. Raphael - yellow or gray

Other Traditions

Aster daisies are also called Michaelmas daisies. There is a poem about them that goes as such:

The Michaelmas daisies, among dede weeds,Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds.And seems the last of flowers that stood,Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.”
St. Simon + St. Jude's feast day is 28 October.

A few other rhymes I found that also reference Michaelmas:
"A dark Michaelmas, a light Christmas."  
He who eats goose on Michaelmas Day
   shan't money lack or debts to pay. 
"If St. Michael brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields in snow."
As a quarter day, rents and bills were all due, and debts were settled on Michaelmas.

Saint Raphael the Archangel by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
To Read

Of course the Biblical account of St. Michael casting Satan into Hell is a must! You can read about it in the book of Revelation, chapter 12, verses 7-12.

Other than our many great collections of Saints books, I couldn't find any other specifically archangel books. However, since St. Michael is associated with dragons, look for a post early in the week with our favorite, favorite, favorite dragon books.

And here is the Prayer we pray every night at our house to St. Michael:

Saint Michael the Archangel,defend us in battle;be our protection against the wickedness and the snares of the devil.May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,by the divine power of God,cast into hell Satan and all the evil spiritswho roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls and the ruin of Christ's Church.Amen.

Also here is a Prayer to St. Gabriel and a Prayer to St. Raphael that you can pray.

Happy Michaelmas to each and every one of you! If you celebrate it in your home, I'd love to hear about your family's traditions and see pictures (if you have any), so please share in the comments!


Title picture: Saint Michael; stained glass in the Pfarrkirche St. Martin in Linz am Rhein (Germany) 20th c.

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This post Celebrating the Feast of Michaelmas first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 21 September 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

5 Favorites {Vol. 21}

Instead of just being plain ol' random today, I figured I might as well also be broad. You're welcome. =)

I've been doing some serious thinking about what I want to be writing about the next few months, what I want to share with you peoples. Think of this 5 Favorites (linking up with the fab Hallie over at Moxie Wife just so you don't forget) as being a preview of somewhat awesomeness to come as well as what you might have seen recently and that will continue. Here are 5 things I loooOOOOooove, several of which (if you've been reading this blog forever) you probably already knew.


Classic Movies. I was recently reminded of this post I've had in the drafts forever by Mandi of Messy Wife, Blessed Life documenting all my favorites from childhood and adulthood, for that matter. I have so many, so I'm paring down the list and hope to share it super soon. 


Real Food. I mean obviously I don't serve plastic food at our dinner table, but this is more my love for working with fresh produce and meats and starting from scratch. However, I'm still all about less time in the kitchen and more time making memories (unless of course those two coincide). I'm a huge fan of the crock pot and learning to be a fan of freezer cooking slowly but surely. Tune in soon for several Real Food posts coming up.


Loads of Fall FeastDays! Oh my- we are so excited to be celebrating several of these feasts for the first time as part of our domestic liturgical life. This weekend is the Feast Day of St. Matthew the Apostle - this is more of an end to summer feast as we gear up for the coming feasts of:
St. Padre Pio (23 Sept, Monday)
Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, Prs. & Comps. (26 Sept, Thursday)
St. Wenceslaus (28 Sept, Saturday)
Michaelmas (29 Sept, Sunday)
St. Jerome (30 Sept, Monday)
St. Therese of Lisieux (1 Oct, Tuesday)
The Holy Guardian Angels (2 Oct, Wednesday)
St. Francis of Assisi (4 Oct, Friday)

Early 20th-century Russianicon of the 7 Holy Angels, with Michael in the front.

As you can see there are more than enough days to celebrate and to pick and choose from. One thing I like to remind people who ask me if I really celebrate every feast day to its fullest is that go simple first! Buy a couple children's saints books. Read a story about the saint on their feast day during a meal when you've got everybody's attention. Or find a coloring page online and color it in. Say the Saint's prayer with your bedtime prayers. I love working in food into our dinner plans, but believe me, it doesn't always happen. So, start simple, and go from there! More on that later...


Natural Healing + Care of the Body. Flu and cold season is creeping up. I've already heard several people hacking and spewing around me in public. We're not huge vaccine supporters though I don't stand against them either, and I've been working on a piece about the why and how we choose our kid's shot schedule. So, that is on the horizon, too!


Our Coming Into Full Communion with the Catholic Church story Annnnnd Our How We Met + Married Story. I definitely owe you BOTH of these stories. Confession: I've started working on neither, but I do have them in the back of my mind somewheres, so hopefully before the end of 2013, they shall make their debut on Two Os + More. I've definitely had enough interest shown in both that I should stop procrastinating. 

So, what are you most looking forward to? Anything else I should add to my "to write about" list?

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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
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This post 5 Favorites {Vol. 21} first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 19 September 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Celebrating the Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle

The statue of St. Matthew at theArchbasilica of St. John Lateran in theVatican by Camillo Rusconi

This coming Saturday, September 21st, is the feast of St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the 12 Disciples and one of the 4 Gospel writers. Before being called by Jesus to follow Him, Matthew was a publican or tax collector for the Romans and was greatly disliked by Jews. Tax collectors were known for being greedy and cheaters. Although he was Jewish himself, since he basically worked for the "enemy," Matthew wasn't invited to eat or pray with his fellow Jews. When Jesus called him, however, St. Matthew stood up right then and there to follow Him.

You can find a brief account of this in Matthew's gospel, Chapter 9:, verse 9. A few verses later, the Pharisees ask Jesus' disciples: "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" This is where it's recorded that Jesus replies, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Verse 13).

St. Matthew walked with Jesus throughout his life on earth and once Jesus ascended to Heaven, he continued to preach the Gospel to the people of Judea. He then died a martyr's death after preaching to nations further to the East, according to some traditions. St. Matthew is associated with a winged man because his Gospel begins with the human genealogy of Christ.


Catholic Cuisine has a great idea with Silver Dollar Pancakes to represent Matthew as a tax collector. Chocolate coins could also work with that theme.

Crafts + Activities

Listen to Bach: Matthäus-Passion (St. Matthew Passion) - it's also available on Spotify for free!

Say a prayer for those who have turned their back on their faith - remember that St. Matthew, although a Jew, worked for the Romans before he started following Jesus. Pray for those you know who have walked away.

Say a prayer for those who work in financial positions: bankers, advisors, and the like.

Do something for those in want of money - donate to a local food shelter, clothing shelter, or crisis pregnancy center. Have your children "earn" extra money by doing extra chores or helpful tasks. They can then put the money they earn into the offering at church.

Color a Picture - I love using coloring pages for littles to keep them still while we read. Here is one I found, and I'm sure you can find more by searching!

The Calling of St. Matthew, Caravaggio, 1599-1600

To Read

Read part of St. Matthew's Gospel - what better book can there be than the Bible? Chapter 9 is where he first makes his appearance, but any part of the Gospel is worth reading!

This piece by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Catholic Culture about the Gospel of Matthew is interesting - perhaps a learning point for older kids or adults.

Here are a couple other books on the apostles that would obviously have something about St. Matthew:

The Twelve Apostles by Marianna Mayer

Book of Saints Part 8
by Lawrence G. Lovasik

And a prayer to close...

God of mercy, you chose a tax collector, Saint Matthew, to share the dignity of the apostles. By his example and prayers help us to follow Christ and remain faithful in your service. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Happy Feast of St. Matthew!


Want to follow my blog? It's easy - subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
By clicking through to make a purchase, you help to financially support TO+M::

This post Celebrating the Feast of St. Matthew the Apostle first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 17 September 2013

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