Bernadette Books

Review at by Kelly M. Henson

Christmas with Bernadette is Emily Grace Ortegaʼs charming sequel to Iʼm Bernadette!Seven year old Bernadette is vivacious, thoughtful, and honest as she navigates thevery real struggles of a young girl.Christmas and the birth of her new sibling are right around the corner, and Bernadettetries to find her place in the preparations. She wants to give presents to everyone in herfamily plus make a donation to a charity that helps children with cleft palates. She alsohopes to be ready for her new baby sister or brother. In the meantime, sheʼs asked tobring a contribution to her class party. As her piggy bank empties, little brothers wreakhavoc with her craft projects, and the excitement of the season causes her to forget heringredient for her class party, Bernadette fears that she might ruin Christmas foreveryone. However, she learns that even if her mom is pregnant and tired and herbrothers are destructive, her family can pull together, help her solve her problems, andcelebrate the true meaning of Christmas in a memorable way.Like her first chapter book, Ortega includes a meaningful catechesis hidden within theentertaining anecdotes. Readers are introduced to various Advent preparations, thebeauty of Latin hymns, and the best ways to build expectation for Christ during a busytime of year. An emphasis on moral instruction sets this book apart from many in itsgenre as well. Main characters do not just do whatever they please and get away with it.Bernadette has a kind heart, and I love to see her apologize and correct her behaviorwhen she is tempted to get frustrated and lash out. Forming virtuous habits is the dramaand task of a young personʼs life, and Ortega comforts and encourages her blossomingreaders through Bernadetteʼs relatability and sincere effort to be good.Another element of this novel that struck me was the positive portrayal of Bernadetteʼsfather. Especially now that her mother is fatigued and approaching the end of herpregnancy, Bernadette turns to her dad for emotional support and assistance. Everytime he comes into the scene the situation is infused with creativity, humor, andempathetic leadership. Readers leave the book wishing that more fathers had that sortof uplifting presence in their homes.I would gladly recommend this book for elementary age students who are reading earlychapter books and up. Tasteful illustrations and lively descriptions make Christmas withBernadette an diverting read, especially in preparation for the holidays.

In the News feature article,  "Catholic Fiction for Catholic Kids."

Bonnie, at is a big fan! Here's her most recent Instagram post.

Bonnie Engstrom

blogger, A Knotted Life 

"...It is Catholic but not in a super pious way. This was such a real portrayal of what a Catholic home and Catholic school look like. I'm Bernadette! did a great job of writing about this girl and her family and her predicament in a normal way. I don't know if I'm conveying what I want to say so let me be blunt. A lot of Catholic art is pretty poor quality and I was afraid this might be too. But it's not. It is very well done. Like I said, it's absolutely lovely."

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Cari Donaldson

author, Pope Awesome and Other Stories and

blogger, Clan Donaldson

"... I was introduced to 1st grade Bernadette, the oldest child of three, and a charming little girl who has all the fire of a Junie B Jones or a Fancy Nancy, but none of the brattiness or precocciousness. ... This book is something special.  It’s funny, it’s relatable, and it does that great trick where the Faith is there simply as a matter of course.  It’s not a “hey, look at this Catholic family doing Catholic things because they want to be all Catholic-y”.  It’s just a regular family, like mine and yours, living their lives, with our Catholicism so intrinsically woven into daily activities that to highlight any particular aspect would be odd.

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