Monthly Archives: October 2021

A Glimpse at “Beyond the White Fence” by Edith M. Humphrey

Whether or not you are part of a tight-knit extended family, Beyond the White Fence offers a taste of such kinship. Can you imagine what happens when you gather a close group of cousins at Gramgon’s (their grandma’s) house? It follows that they will have experiences together in the valley beyond the white fence in her backyard…

Katie, Rachael, Madeline, Naomi, and James each (sometimes together, and other times on their own) experience extraordinary adventures in the valley. Every time they see a pair of fawns in the meadow beyond Gramgon’s white fence, an escapade follows. The cousins know that they are not supposed to go down there without a grownup, but they also can’t resist getting a closer look at those fawns! Every time that they follow the young deer, they find themselves transported to other places and eras. With each new experience, the children meet amazing people facing difficult circumstances while trusting God to carry them through their trials.

Beyond the White Fence is a tale of familial love in the context of extraordinary events. It offers believable glimpses into the lives of a handful of saints. Their stories are seamlessly infused with the children’s exploits throughout the book.

Edith M. Humphrey has woven a beautiful story that children (especially those aged 8-12) will enjoy because of its myriad of adventures. They will come away from the book having found new friends (a handful of saints) that they may not have met before. Emanuel Alypius Burke’s illustrations, sprinkled throughout the book, embroider the text with their charm and depth.

This reader was delighted to learn that the author is a grandmother to many, the first few of whom are named (and their saints are featured) in this book, and can’t help hoping she will write additional books, introducing all of her grandchildren‘s saints!

Spoiler alerts: don’t worry, parents, after every adventure in the book, the children safely return to Gramgon’s house before they have even been missed, regardless of how much time has passed during the adventure. Oh, and don’t be surprised if, after reading this book, your children will want a peacock feather of their own, just in case…

Reviewed by Kristina Wenger, educator, podcaster, co-author of Tending the Garden of Our Hearts

You can buy your own copy of Beyond the White Fence here:

Other Orthodox Christian books that we have reviewed which could be of interest to this age group:

101Orthodox Saints

The Cross and the Stag

Spyridon’s Shoes

The Broken Wheel

In the Orthodox Church, we are each admonished to learn about the saints. We quote the Holy Fathers and are encouraged to study the lives of all the saints who have gone on before us. But do we ever take a moment to consider why are we encouraged to do this? What value is there in learning about the life of someone who lived so long (years or even millennia) before us? This blog post will take a look at a few of the reasons why we should learn about the saints; through the words of Holy Fathers and saints.

A Glimpse at “The Cellarer’s Celery” by Fr. Jeremy Davis and Illustrated by Luke Garrow

What happens when things don’t go the way that you planned? Especially if the turn of events is out of your control, how do you handle the mishap? The Cellarer’s Celery approaches this struggle in a deliciously refreshing way.

Things go all wrong for the Sower (the monastery gardener) and he is disappointed. But the Cellarer (who tends the cellar where the monastery’s foods are stored), who will now have to be without his favorite snack, has a heart full of love for God and for others. Instead of expressing his disappointment, the Cellarer helps the Sower learn how to respond. He models what is most important, even though things are not going his way.

This endearing picture book features Luke Garrow’s playfully expressive illustrations. Fr. Jeremy’s spirited verse tells the story of a monk who loves celery, but loves God and His people even more. The Cellarer helps the Gardener to embrace the lesson that God offers both of them in the context of a failed celery crop.

This little book packs a powerful punch, featuring refreshing splashes of humor braced with sturdy truth. The exuberant verse and jolly illustrations are vibrantly green and full of life, just like the celery for which it is named. Children and their grownups will enjoy sharing the story and its lessons together, perhaps over a bowl of celery…

Reviewed by Kristina Wenger, educator, podcaster, co-author of Tending the Garden of Our Hearts

You can buy The Cellarer’s Celery at

Have you ever visited a monastery? Monasteries are such holy places for us to visit, where we can pray and rest. When we spend time in one, it is good for our souls and we come away refreshed and grateful for the experience. Invite your students and their families on a field trip, to visit one and see for yourself how the nuns (or monks) like everybody! Ask your priest to recommend one for your class to visit. (Look here for additional ones: