Saint Patrick the Forgiver – Ned Bustard

Saint Patrick the Forgiver: The History and Legends of Ireland's Bishop by Ned Bustard
Also by this author: Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver, The O in Hope, Saint Valentine the Kindhearted: The History and Legends of God's Brave and Loving Servant
Published by IVP Kids on February 21, 2023
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
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Hello, my name is Patrick. You may have heard my story. I walked the span of Ireland to tell of God's great glory. And with a wee green shamrock I shared of the Three-in-One: our God--the blessed mystery-- Father, Spirit, and the Son.
Everybody's Irish on Saint Patrick's Day. But did you know that Patrick--the greatest bishop of Ireland--wasn't Irish? Combining Patrick's words from his Confessions with a few of the legends about him, this whimsical retelling will teach families about the fascinating life of the real Saint Patrick and help them discover a remarkable story of love and forgiveness along the way.
Told in rollicking rhyme and beautifully illustrated with Ned Bustard's signature linocut artwork, this children's book will be enjoyed by kids and the adults who read with them. Also included is a note from the author to encourage further conversation about the content.
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Ask a little kid about St. Patrick’s Day and the answer you get will inevitably be something about wearing green or else you get pinched. Ask an adult and the day is all about getting tipsy with some green-colored alcohol. Ask a Chicagoan and they’ll tell you about the day they turn the rivers green. Ask Ned Bustard and you’ll get the actual, real-life story of St. Patrick the Forgiver.

St. Patrick the Forgiver was a fifth-century missionary who became a bishop and now patron saint of Ireland. According to his autobiography, he was sold into slavery in Ireland at the age of 16, escaped back to England after six years, then returned to the land of his enslavement as a missionary. Using that autobiography, the Confessions, as a guide, Ned Bustard leads readers on a jaunty rhyming story about the life of St. Patrick. The rhyme scheme is simple a-b-c-b with eight lines per page. The right page provides the text while the left illustrates the text in a way reminiscent of stained glass windows.

The story focuses on the forgiveness of St. Patrick and his willingness to go back to Ireland where he had been a slave to preach the Gospel: “To the Irish I returned / with a Bible and a bell. / Because God had forgiven me / then I could forgive as well.” Bustard’s poetry wavers between serious and humorous, striking the perfect blend of upbeat and educational. St. Patrick the Forgiver also addresses the more legendary aspects of St. Patrick’s story, handling the uncertainty well and expressing these stories as hyperbole. The book concludes:

To every ear that hears me

I preach Christ, and Christ alone:

Christ above me, Christ within me,

Christ on his golden throne.

And by the strength of heaven

I will love and I’ll forgive—

And I’ll belong to Jesus

For as long as I shall live!

I really love this book. Everything from the art design to the lyrical yet informative storytelling is exceptionally well-done. I feel like St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that little kids take very seriously yet have no idea about its Christian roots or the actual St. Patrick. St. Patrick the Forgiver not only introduces readers to a hero of church history, but holds St. Patrick up as an example of forgiveness and following God’s call. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, this is the perfect book to prepare.