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October 17, 2023

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame Prep, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Author Carey Wallace, who grew up in Michigan, pens a richly illustrated book about 70 saints, many of whom you've heard of, and many you surely haven't.

Carey Wallace, of Brooklyn, New York, is the author of “Stories of the Saints: Bold and Inspiring Tales of Adventure, Grace, and Courage.” She is visiting Notre Dame Prep Nov. 6.

In the annals of sainthood where humans intertwine with miracles, many stand out for contemporary Christians. St. Theresa. St. Francis of Assisi. St. Joan of Arc. But what about St. Josephine Bakhita? Or St. Camillus de Lellis?

Or St. Polycarp? 

That's where Michigan native Carey Wallace comes in. Wallace is an author and popular speaker on saints, psalms and the creative life. In addition, she works to help people from all walks of life find inspiration and build strong creative habits. 

Wallace also is coming to Notre Dame Prep on Nov. 6 to talk to students about St. Polycarp and 69 other saints who appear in her 2021 book, Stories of the Saints: Bold and Inspiring Tales of Adventure, Grace and Courage. She also may mention her other books, including Psalms of Wonder: Poems from the Book of Songs, the most recent. 

Currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York, Wallace says she thoroughly enjoys traveling and interacting with readers — especially the younger ones. 

"I love talking with all kinds of people at all kinds of events, but I especially love talking with kids because they so often have an amazing new perspective — and they so often are teaching us even as we try to share the things we think we know with them," said the author of Story of the Saints, which was published by Workman Publishing Company, Inc., part of The Hachette Book Group.

Cover of "Stories of the Saints: Bold and Inspiring Tales of Adventure, Grace, and Courage" by Carey Wallace, illustrated by Nick Thornborrow (Workman). ©2020. Illustrations by Nick Thornborrow. Named by Quill Quire as one of the best book covers of 2020.

A number of book reviewers have said the book's appeal lies in the way the saints are "humanized," making it more interesting and easier for younger readers to digest. But Wallace said that adults can relate to it as well in a recent interview with Notre Dame Prep's marketing and communications department.

"I like to say that the real writers of the book were the saints themselves, who wrote these stories with their own lives, by living them," she said. "And I believe they’re stories that have something in them for everyone: simple and captivating enough for kids, but with deep truths and surprises that still resonate for adults."

She also thinks that kids are perfectly capable of understanding all kinds of things, and that it’s often very good for adults to see things through a child’s eyes. 

"And with what I’ve seen with this book is that both kids and adults are drawn to it, with each group finding something to relate to," she said.

Notable also in Story of the Saints is the artwork that illustrates each "saintly" profile. Nick Thornborrow, whose day job is as a video game artist, captures each subject in extraordinary dramatic illustrations that at times take up an entire spread in the book.

Wallace said her publishing company suggested Thornborrow and she couldn't be happier.

Illustration of St. Joan of Arc in "Stories of the Saints: Bold and Inspiring Tales of Adventure, Grace, and Courage" by Carey Wallace and illustrated by Nick Thornborrow. ©2020. Illustrations by Nick Thornborrow.

"In publishing, an author usually pitches the text of a book, and then the publisher, who has much better contacts with a wide variety of illustrators, chooses the artist for the project. And that’s what happened here," she said. "My wonderful editor found our wonderful illustrator, Nick, who was a full-time artist at the time creating images for the video-game company BioWare. I think he brought an incredible, fresh take to the project in illustrating these stories."

While Wallace also wrote a novel for adult readers called The Blind Contessa’s New Machine, with Penguin Publishing, she admits that writing for children is where she'd prefer to spend most of her time. That may be because writing for younger consumers also brings her back to her own childhood.

"I chose saints for my book because I've always loved the stories of Greek and Norse gods when I was a kid, and I realized that my own Christian tradition also had wonderful stories of heroic adventures in the stories of the saints," she said. "The saints included in Stories of the Saints were drawn from a huge survey of other collections of stories of the saints. I looked at thousands of saints’ stories, but the same 70 appeared again and again because they are the most beloved saints — which I believe is because they have the most wonderful stories." 

Incidentally, here's a primer on St. Polycarp: A Christian bishop of Smyrna, a Greek city on the Aegean Sea, Polycarp was martyred at the age of 86 in 155 AD after serving as a disciple of John the Apostle, one of Jesus' disciples. He also was an elder of an important congregation that was a large contributor to the founding of the Christian Church.

Wallace loved learning and writing about St. Polycarp in her book on saints. But, we asked, did she have a favorite?

"There are so many wonderful saints that different ones are important to me at different times," she said. "But I’m always partial to St. Joseph of Cupertino, who had a habit of floating up off the ground whenever he thought about God."

NOTE: On Nov. 6, Wallace will give a presentation to NDP juniors and seniors in the morning. In the afternoon, NDP middle school students will attend a presentation and at the end of day, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the school's main library will be hosting a book signing. 

Those interested in purchasing a copy of the book should complete the order form linked on the NDP Library MyNotreDame page. Student accounts will be charged for each book ordered.

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame Prep, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School 
Notre Dame Preparatory School is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame Prep's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School, visit the school’s home page at