There are lots of good picture books out there dealing with the life of the saints (and an inordinate percentage of them deal with Irish saints...), so I thought I would highlight five of the really really special books dealing with these great men and women of God.
1.) Saint George and the Dragonis a truly beautiful telling of the legend of Saint George, by Margaret Hodges, and illustrated and illuminated by Trina Schart Hyman. It is a classic story of valour, complete with the damsel in distress, and therefore, it is excellent for both boys and girls alike.
2) Joan of Arcby Josephine Poole, and illustrated by Angela Barrett is a mesmerizingly beautiful illustrated retelling of the life of the Maid d'Orleans. The story is simple; Poole lets Joan of Arc's life speak for itself, but the illustrations are truly magnficent. (See above.)
3) There are so many illustrated stories of the life of Saint Francis, but this is my favorite, because of the striking illustrations (done in a modified icon style), and the fact that it tells of both Clare and Francis. Clare and Francisby Guido Visconti, and illustrated by Bimba Landmann, is a treasure. Published by Eerdmans.
4) Ruth Sanderson's two volumes of illuminated lives of the saints are excellent compilations for children. Her illustrations are a little over the top for my tastes now, but I know I would have loved them as a child. Saints: Lives and Illuminationsand More Saints: Lives & Illuminationsare special because of both the scope and selection of saints she presents, and the gracious and respectful treatment she gives of each of them.
5) Lives and Legends of the Saints: With Paintings from the Great Art Museums of the Worldis both an art book and a saint's book. Pairing artistic masterpieces with short descriptions of the lives of each saint, Carole Armstrong makes art immediately accessible to children. By telling the stories of the characters in the paintings, children can enter into the painting and explore it (as they do with all picture books). I've given this to several friends for their children, and the kids all love it, which made me very glad.