Papa's Pearls by Diane Flynn Keith is a heart warming story of Papa's life. It is based on the life of Carol Joseph Flynn, the author's father. Growing up during the depression, he knew difficult times and he made hard choices. At times, he found himself involved in illegal situations. It ran in the family, so to speak, as one of his uncles was an enforcer for the mob and another uncle harbored the notorious Baby Face Nelson.
After attending Continuation School (a school for delinquents), he turned things around, signed up for the Civilian Conservation Corps and later he headed into the Navy. Just before his last tour of duty he meet his wife, Jan. Before they married he was contemplating a shady proposal from one of his father's friends, Jan said, "...it was more important that her kids didn't have a father in prison."
And that ended his life of crime.
This choice became a beautiful turning point in not only his life and his family's lives, but everyone who knew him. And now to all of the people reading of his love of family and devotion to helping others.
How we used it
We read the book one chapter at a time as a family read aloud in the evenings snuggled on the sofa or piled in my bed. After the first couple of chapters, Ceesa started stringing her own "pearls" on a string for every pearl that Papa shared with his family.
We read this book for enjoyment and didn't do any additional assignments. But the kids always had a lot to say about each chapter when we were finished.
What the kids have to say
How would you describe Papa?
Jo-Jo: "He was a good father and a person who tells lots of pearls."
Ceesa: "He was a very good man. He was supportive to his family. His children were very lucky to have them as a father (just like I'm lucky to have my father for a father). I wish I could have known him.
What's your favorite part of the story?
Jo-Jo: "The part about him telling everyone that they were fantastic."
Ceesa: "I really like the story about when they went skiing and the duck laid an egg in the boy's lap."
What was your favorite pearl?
Jo-Jo: "I like 'Doodle-Do-It' because it was funny."
Ceesa: "I like the pearl Doodle-Do-It. But my favorite is 'I love you. You know that, right'?"
What I like
My very favorite line from the whole book comes from what Papa said when he found out Diane was writing the book..."I think this is a good idea. You gotta tell 'em. This world...They don't know. They don't know they're loved. You gotta tell 'em they're loved. And tell 'em to say it out loud every day to their families. 'You're loved.'"
He's right! You are so loved. No. Matter. What. You are loved. You know that, right?
Diane signed our copy (you can get a signed copy as well for $21.97). I thought it was very nice and Ceesa and Jo-Jo thought it was a lovely tie in to the last chapter.
There are a few sentences or words that I glossed over here and there as I felt that they were not appropriate for my kids. You may wish to preview the book before you assign it as a reading.
I would love to see a companion made for the book to enforce the idea of living out the pearls. It would be great to really talk about how to take a pearl and make it our own, how to put it into practice everyday, and how it could tie into scripture.