When I first encountered the newest book by author Edward Looney, Breakfast in Bethlehem, I was intrigued by the email subject line “Eucharistic Christmas children’s book.”
I’ve read countless children’s books about Christmas both spiritual and secular and never had I encountered a book that tied the Eucharist in with the Nativity.
After diving into this beautifully illustrated piece, I was pleased to find a unique combination of scripture, legend, and sacrament both in a historical and contemporary setting. Told from the eyes of a young boy who falls asleep on Christmas Eve only to witness the first Christmas in a dream, the tale continues after he wakes on Christmas morning.
But, enough from me. Why don’t we go straight to the source and talk to the author himself? Please welcome author Edward Looney to CatholicMom.com.
Edward, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a third year seminarian for the Diocese of Green Bay and study at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. God-willing, I will be ordained to the diaconate in May 2014 and a priest in 2015.
How exciting! Our prayers are with you as you complete your studies. I’m sure being in the seminary keeps you very busy. You must have had quite an inspiration to motivate you to write this book!
My first children’s book was The Story of Sister Adele. I wrote the story at the request of the staff at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, where I had been assigned for the summer in 2011.
A friend of mine woke up one morning with a nice title for a Christmas children’s book, Breakfast in Bethlehem. She shared the title with me and hoped that I would consider writing the story. I did not think that I actually would but the story came together after being inspired by a series of different events.
I met a young boy at a book signing for The Story of Sister Adele during the Christmas season. A few things he said in our conversation laid the foundation for the storyline of Breakfast in Bethlehem.
What age group did you have in mind when you were writing this book?
I’m sure a parent would be a better gauge of that than me. I think the book would make a great Christmas gift for a 2nd grader who is preparing for the sacrament of First Holy Communion.
In Breakfast in Bethlehem, you were able to merge a lot of different stories and legends surrounding Christmas together such as the Nativity story, the story of the Drummer Boy, and the Wise Men, of course. What led you to compile all of those together into one composite story?
On my drive back home to Green Bay from Milwaukee, I was listening to some Christmas music which brought the story altogether. One will notice throughout the story that there are lines from Christmas hymns/songs. I am particularly fond of the Little Drummer Boy and think that there is a great message in the song, so I knew I wanted to include him.
I guess what led me to compile everything together for a composite story was that I thought the whole Christmas story needed to be included.
I love the Eucharistic imagery in B in B. Not only is there a meal in the boy’s dream but also the meal on Christmas morning after he wakes up. Even though the Eucharist is always emphasized in our Catholic faith, it seems as though it gets glossed over at Christmas. Is that why you wrote this book from a Eucharistic perspective?
My experience with the adults who have read Breakfast in Bethlehem is that they did not know Bethlehem means House of Bread. I remember hearing a homily on that topic sometime during my youth. It was something that always stuck with me. I think it is important for that connection to be made and what better way to do that than with the children.
When Our Lady appeared to Adele Brise, she instructed her to teach the children their catechism and what they needed to know for salvation. One reason Our Lady appeared was because many adults were losing their faith in the Belgian settlement. When Our Lady entrusted a mission of catechizing young people to Adele, I think she knew this was a way to renew the faith of the adults–through their children. I think the same is true for children’s stories.
Well, it’s obvious that you’ve taken that mission of catechizing young people to heart. Where can readers get your books?
At my website: www.EdwardLooneyBooks.com. There they can order personalized copies and take advantage of my children’s book combo (Breakfast in Bethlehem and softcover Story of Sister Adele for $20. Both hardcovers for $25.00).
Edward, thanks for joining me here at CatholicMom.com and may God bless you and your studies.
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Copyright 2013, Laura Nelson