As a father of three, I love when I find a good children’s book to read with my kids. A compelling story with imaginative illustrations engages my kids and keeps them returning to that book again and again. Hildegard’s Gift was one such compelling read for my children. My oldest daughter (age six) was interested in the truthfulness of the story that Megan Hoyt tells; there really was a Hildegard whose imagination was set a flame by God. My younger children (ages four and three) were captivated by David Hill’s illustrations– a little girl, medieval monastics and colorful visions.
Hildegard was a twelfth century polymath. She wrote books, plays, poetry, music, created art, and she was a Benedictine abbess and mystic. In Hildegard’s Gift, Hoyt tells the story of Hildegard’s visions. From the time that she was a little girl, Hildegard had them. Hoyt pictures her as a little girl who ‘saw pictures’ whenever she closed her eyes. These visions birthed tremendous creativity and insight.
Hildegard’s gift was also a source of suffering. It made her tired and gave her headaches. When Hildegard grew up she became a nun, but continued to use her gifts to inspire,bless and direct others. One day her gift was gone. Hildegard went through a season where she could not see visions or do much of anything. She laid in bed languishing. But her gift revived after Bernard of Clairvaux visits and encourages her. She arose and returned to creating and writing.
This book is about Hildegard’s gift but it is also about the gift every child has (and all us adults too). Hoyt’s words and Hill’s illustrations explore the specialness of each of our calls and helps kids think about what their gift to the world may be. I am not sure that my children get all that, but the beauty and substance of the story entices them. I am grateful for this book as their introduction to Hildegard. I also really like this book and haven’t minded reading it to my kids over and over again. I give this book five stars and recommend for children four to eight. ★★★★★
Thank you to Paraclete Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.