Some months ago I heard that Fr John O’Neill had written another book for children, Benjamin. We’d read a couple of his previous books and enjoyed them immensely so we couldn’t wait to find out what his new book was like. We all waited impatiently for Benjamin to be published and when we saw the book for sale at a recent homeschool camp, we didn’t hesitate. We knew we had to have a copy.

I have just read Benjamin aloud to my girls aged 6, 9 and 13. We read a chapter or two a day until we finished the book last Friday.

On the back of the book it says:

As a young Jewish boy, working on the family farm in Galilee, Benjamin wants to experience so much more of life. After a bitter argument with his older brother Reuben, Benjamin leaves home, his flute in hand, searching for adventure.

Benjamin’s journey takes him to Rome, where he makes both friends and enemies and learns just how difficult life can be, before returning home to Galilee.

In Galilee, Benjamin again crosses paths with his childhood friend, Youshua. Their encounters will have a deep and lasting impact on Benjamin’s life, as the story reaches its dramatic conclusion.

This blurb accurately describes the story but leaves so much out.

Fr O’Neill is such a clever writer. As we were reading the book, we met so many of the familiar stories of the New Testament but they were presented from a different angle, one which really engaged our imaginations, got us emotionally involved and gave us much to think about.

I think we all guessed how the book was going to end but I don’t think we were quite prepared for how that ending was going to affect us. I began to wonder if I’d be able to finish reading the final page. My voice started to shake but I did make it right to the last word. Then I looked up. Charlotte had streams of tears running down her face. Sophie was about to sob. That was it. I burst into tears myself. Gemma-Rose grabbed the tissue box and handed it around.

“That was a really good book, wasn’t it?” I managed to ask. All the girls nodded their heads vigorously. I think we will remember this story for a long time. I hope that the truths that Benjamin finally learnt will also ‘have a deep and lasting impact’ on my own children.

Cardinal Newman Faith Resources is stocking Benjamin. They might also have copies of Fr O’Neill’s previous children’s books Cappy and Nor Life, Nor Death, both of which we enjoyed immensely. But be warned: Nor Life, Nor Death, like Benjamin, might reduce you to tears. We sobbed our way through the final chapter!

I’d love to hear about any good Catholic children’s books you have read. We are always on the lookout for new treasures.


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  1. Hi Sue. Our younger kids are unschooled...not the teens though, I miss unschooling them...high school changes everything around here...sorry about the loss of you son Thomas, what is your favorite memory of him?
    God Bless you

  2. I am so pleased you visited my blog, Martina. Thank you! I'd love to hear more about changes in your schooling when your children reached high school. Is unschooling impossible or very difficult to continue for some reason? State regulations, for example? I am being inquisitive because I have been discussing unschooling with Leonie! I hope you don't mind.

    My favourite memory of Thomas? You know, no one has ever asked me that question before. I guess it must be when I held him and looked closely, and realised that his profile, was very much like our daughter Imogen's. For months afterwards, I'd stare at Imogen, trying to recapture our son.


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