Friday 7 January 2022

Champions of the Rosary - Laurie Schmitt

Champions of the Rosary
ISBN 9781784696238
eISBN 9781645851301

This was the first book by Laurie Schmitt I have read but it will not be the last. I already have plans to read the other that is available digitally, and hop the third has an eBook edition released shortly. This is the third book involving Our Lady of Good Help that I have read over the last couple of years. One was a prayer book for pilgrimage and another novel, The Woman in the Trees by Theoni Bell. While read this one I could not help but think about the other story. But they are told from such different perspectives.

A description of this volume is:

“Our Lady of Good Help and the Peshtigo Fire is a story about a family struggling to survive in the northwoods of Wisconsin.  James, steeped in self-doubt and sorrowing his father’s death, leaves his family just when he’s needed most. He heads to Peshtigo looking for work and a new life for himself, but comes face to face with terrible danger. The Peshtigo Fire is raging, destroying thousands of Wisconsin forests and farmland. He must return to his family, but what will he find when he gets there?  

This historical fiction, a chapter book for fifth graders and up, centers on the Wisconsin Marian apparition of Our Lady of Good Help and the Peshtigo fire.”

A different description of the book states:

“In 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a young woman named Adele Brise. Mary gave Adele a special mission: “To gather the children to the wild country to teach them what they needed to know for their salvation.” A chapel was built in honor of Our Lady of Good Help in the place where she appeared.

Champions of the Rosary introduces us to siblings Philip, Elizabeth, and John, who attend catechism classes with Sr. Adele Brise. Together, with their older brother James, they witness the raging Peshtigo Fire of 1871.

What will become of the chapel of Our Lady of Good Help? Will the children overcome their fear to reach safety? Champions of the Rosary is an exciting, inspiring story based on real-life events that will remind readers of the miraculous power of the Rosary.”

This was an excellent read and hard to put down once I got going. The fire of Peshtigo Fire of 1871 which began on the same day as the Great Chicago fire, wove a vast swath of destruction in Northern Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula in Michigan. This story follows a family that has already suffered tragedy. The father filled in a logging accident. The middle brother crippled, and the mother growing ever more despondent. James the oldest brother blames himself, and believes everyone would be better if he left. So he makes his way north to Peshtigo to earn a living logging and to be able so send money home. But he arrives on the night of the great fire. Father Pernin who plays a key role in the story on several occasions is a real historic figure, who served in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and was the pastor in Peshtigo the night of the fire.

This story may be fictional but it revolves around real events and a true miracle. It is masterfully written. It is an excellent novel for Middle Grade readers right on up. I am in my 50’s and absolutely loved it. And I added to both my son’s and youngest daughter’s reading lists. And I have mentioned it to several friends. This is an excellent read no matter your age. A story filled with family, faith, and hope. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Other books by Laurie Schmitt:

Other books about Our Lady of Good Help:

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