Book ReviewsNew children’s book blends the genius of two beloved Catholic artists during the season of Resurrection

Fans of beloved children's illustrator Tomie DePaola will be delighted by this newly released imprint of an Easter title; his style is immediately recognizable in his signature saturated colors and fanciful depictions of animals and nature in “Petook, the Rooster Who Met Jesus.”

What elevates “Petook” even further, beyond now being numbered among the masterful children's classics penned by DePaola over the years? The fact that this clever and surprisingly moving tale of the Resurrection, told from the perspective of a rooster - the cock who crowed three times, in fact - was penned by the 20th century Catholic literary giant Caryll Houselander.

DePaola movingly recounts his excitement over being able to collaborate with Houselander, whose work he had long admired, in the foreword to the story.

A legendary children's author and illustrator, who died only a year ago in March 2020, DePaola is perhaps best known for his 1975 classic “Strega Nona,” which is only a single title in more than 250 children's books penned over a prolific career.

Fans of both DiPaola and Houselander, who is probably best known for her spiritual classic, “The Reed of God,” will find something to love in this gentle, bittersweet story of the Crucifixion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, told through the eyes of one of His humble creatures.

I read the book aloud to a group of my younger children, ages 3, 5, and 7, but before I'd turned the last page, the nearly nine and over 10 year olds had both wandered over surreptitiously to eavesdrop, confirming that CS Lewis truism that “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

Having been asked several times now to read and reread “Petook, the Rooster Who Met Jesus” and being able to happily acquiesce to the demand, I find myself quite in agreement with him.

You can get your own copy of “Petook, the Rooster Who Met Jesus” in time to stuff into an Easter basket by ordering from Ignatius Press.

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