Saint Patrick the Forgiver: The History and Legends of Ireland’s Bishop

Reviewed by:

Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Saint Patrick the Forgiver: The History and Legends of Ireland’s Bishop


Ned Bustard


IVP Kids (a division of InterVarsity Press)

Publication Date:

February 21, 2023


Children’s board book


32 pages



Saint Patrick, an Englishman who escaped slavery in Ireland only to return years later to share the Gospel, might be one of the most famous missionaries in Christian history.  In Saint Patrick the Forgiver, writer and illustrator Ned Bustard retells his story for young readers, from Patrick’s slavery to his ministry work, showing how forgiveness and God’s guidance led to something incredible. Bustard retells Saint Patrick’s story concisely finds ways to include humor in every stanza, making this a fun as well as an informative book. While it’s hard to say a 32-page children’s book has a recurring theme, Bustard does put a special emphasis on how forgiveness (Saint Patrick realizing that if God could forgive him, he could forgive the Irish who enslaved him and bring them the Gospel message) played a key role in his subject’s life.


Bustard’s writing also achieves a great compromise between talking about documented facts and talking about legends. He recounts a few legends (Saint Patrick casting the snakes out, baptizing a giant) with the words “some stories stretch the truth,” highlighting the important thing is how Saint Patrick spread Christianity. The final page is a note to readers summarizing the historical facts, aiding parents who may want to discuss the line between legends and facts with their children. This compromise means Bustard highlights the most important lesson about Saint Patrick (his missionary work), without giving a dry treatment. It’s not a reductionistic take that treats the legends as evil (false they may be, but they’regreat stories that show what kind of reputation Saint Patrick left). It’s not a remythologizing that says legend and fact are the same (we have good reason to believe there really was a historical person named Patrick). It helps readers understand both sides of Saint Patrick’s legacy in a clear way. Bustard’s illustrations are equally excellent. Like his book Saint Nicholas the Giver, he uses a generally modern drawing style but with elements that feel old-fashioned, underling some story elements. In this case, the composition (characters bunched together, the negative space filled with Celtic knots)resembles medieval stained glass, highlighting the medieval setting. The creative use of Celtic knots (such as one surrounding a map of Ireland that Patrick sees in a dream) emphasizes the Irish location more cleverly than using modern Saint Patrick’s Day symbols (leprechauns, generic shamrocks).

A delightful book for introducing young readers to a seminal Christian figure.



Rating (1 to 5 stars):

5 stars

 Suggested Audience:

Young children learning about important Christian figures.

Christian Impact:

Bustard shows the power of forgiveness to free people to help those who have hurt them, and how God’s guidance enables people to do amazing things.


Note: ECLA readers who enjoy this book may enjoy the following:

The O in hope

Saint Nicholas the giftgiver 

Saint Patrick the Forgiver: The History and Legends of Ireland's Bishop

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: