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Novel 'Carving Angels' illustrates triumphs over trials

By Sheryl C. S. Johnson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Dec. 1 2011 6:57 p.m. MST

"CARVING ANGELS," by Diane Stringham Tolley, Cedar Fort, $12.99, 115 pages (f)

When asked by fellow writer G.G. Vandagriff what she hoped people would take away from her novel "Carving Angels," author Diane Stringham Tolley responded, "I hope people, once they’ve read 'Carving Angels,' never look at a ‘handicapped’ person in the same way again. Never dismiss them as second-class.... But see, instead, the divine strength and beauty that is within us all."

Tolley illustrates that divine strength in her character master carver Papa Adam. When he loses his sight he loses his sense of purpose. Once the best of Santa’s toy carvers, he is now resigned to a dreary life of idle darkness. His youngest grandchild, 5-year-old Amy, brings him a piece of wood with a request he carve one more thing for her. When Amy won’t accept his blindness as an excuse, Papa Adam pulls out his toolbox and begins an undertaking that will bless children all over the world.

As Amy unwittingly brings Papa Adam out of his darkness, he discovers she also has the carver’s gift. It is a delight for readers to watch this endearing pair grow in confidence and purpose together as their talents increase. Carving is used throughout the book as a metaphor of God’s hand in refining individuals into their best selves through talents, trials and challenges. This insightful book is a strong story of love, faith and perseverance.

Children and adults will be pleased with the charming dialogue between granddaughter and grandfather. This book illustrates that, with understanding and encouragement, those who are young and weak among us are capable of making wonderful, life-changing contributions. Parents can use this story any time of year to initiate discussions with children about talents, trials, service and family relationships. At 115 pages, this book could be easily read by adults in a single sitting but will enchant children chapter by chapter.

Sheryl C.S. Johnson blogs at SherylCSJohnson.blogspot.com

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