Catholic Churches Big and Small by Stefan Salinas

catholic churches big and smallSummary

A young girl, her brother, and her father tour the Archdiocese of San Franciso. Their tour guide, Sister Barbara, teaches them about Catholic churches while they all sketch out the details.

 

Review

Catholic Churches Big and Small is a fantastic book. Fantastic! The author, Stefan Salinas, toured the Archdiocese of San Fransisco as a part of his conversion to Catholicism.  It is this intimacy that really shines through in every one of his drawings. Take, for example, this image from the author’s book blog, of St. Dominic Catholic Church in San Francisco.

St. Dominic

A simple storyline only adds to the stunning imagery. Simple words that roll off the tongue – perfect for a read aloud to curious toddlers and preschoolers – walk the reader through Catholicism in all its beauty.  There are sketches of multiple Catholic churches, close ups of common Catholic symbolism, reproductions of statues of saints and angels, and also items found inside our churches.  Toddlers will be mesmerized. Preschoolers will be fascinated. And young children will be genuinely interested.  I think that even the older elementary child would enjoy this book as a sort of dictionary of Catholic terms (homeschoolers I’m looking at you, here!) and, as Salinas suggests on his website “an introduction to the art and architecture of the Catholic Church.” In fact, my own seven year old boy has big plans to trace the church sketches onto Shrinky Dink plastic so that he can “make a collection.”

I’ll leave you with this, another from the author’s book blog.

catholic churches big and small stained glass windows

Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes. But my opinions are my own.

Details

  • Author: Stefan Salinas
  • Publisher: Camelopardalis
  • Hardback, 50 pages
  • Reading Age:

What You Need to Know

  • Role Models/Authority Figures - A nun takes children on a city-wide church viewing field trip
  • Violence -None
  • Sexual ContentNone
  • ConsumerismNone.
  • Drinking/Smoking/DrugsNone
  • ReligionFaithful representation of Catholic churches; Editing quibble: Eucharist isn’t capitalized nor is First Communion.
  • Other -
  • Awards

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie

Summary

In the “The Gift of the Christmas Cookie,” we see the sweet story of a small family loving and sharing Christ’s love during the holiday. Jack’s father isn’t home this Christmas, he’s “out West”, having boarded a train in search of work.  His mother has been putting every spare penny into the jar in the kitchen, but even the jar is sparse.  Jack is surprised, then, to find his mother baking cookies when he comes from school. Alas, the cookies aren’t for him – they are for the needy at their church.  Still, Jack isn’t convinced the needy are in need of such elaborate and fanciful cookies.  So his mother tells him the story of the how Christmas cookies began, and how they speak of the true message of Christmas. Not too long afterwards, Jack is able to set aside his own needs to put in practice what he has learned.

the gift of the christmas cookie sharing the true meaning of jesus birth

Review

I’m not sure whyI picked this book up from the library. Was it on a reading list somewhere? Someone’s blog? I dunno.  I love the illustrations, but then I’m a sucker for pictures of people that actually look like people. The story is good enough.  It’s a sweet tale, both in content and prose. And sentimental. Overly sentimental, morally preachy, and a little irksome.  Or should I say tiresome?  Because that’s how I feel when I read books like this. Tired.  The truth is that it is fairly unlikely some poor German soul decided to carve a springerle mold and then stand in the village square with a tin of cookies, preaching the gospel.  True, early Western springerle molds are often depicted with religious scenes (a fact the author indicates in a small paragraph on the last page of the book).  Indeed, it seems the oldest springerle mold from Switzerland was of the Easter Lamb and found in St. Katharine’s monastery. But religious molds do not equal village square evangelizing and I’m not sure why we need to make up “legends” when we have so many good ones already in existence. St. Nicholas and St. Lucia come to mind, for example.  And hey! You can even make a St. Nicholas Springerle. Yes! The boy learns a lesson and gives his own cookie to a needy man, and then shares the Gospel with said man.  Beautiful what this boy, Jack, does. I’m not trying to diss the message.  I love the message. Just, I’m not a fan of its presentation in this book.

Details

  • Author: Dandi Daley Mackall
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (August 5, 2008)
  • Hardcover 32 pages
  • Reading Age: 4-7 years

What You Need to Know

  • Role Models/Authority Figures - Mother and father of the family are married. Father has left “west” to find a job and sends his money home to support his family.
  • Violence – None
  • Sexual Content - None
  • Consumerism – None.
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – None
  • Religion – Promotes the true Christmas story.
  • Other -
  • Awards

 

The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane

Summary

Brother Theophane isn’t suited to sit all day with the rest of his brethren and copy texts.  He is prone to daydreams.  Finally Theophane is given the job of making ink for his brothers transcriptions. Brown ink.  In his new found task, Theophane discovers that, not only can he make brown ink, but he can make ink in all the colors of the rainbow.  And his brothers, inspired by the colors, take on the task of illuminating their work.

Review

I was first introduced to this book by way of my 1st grader. It was assigned reading (me to him, aloud) for 1st grade.  But its one of those books that seems to draw everyone in.  The drawings are marvelous, each page an illumination in and of itself.

True, in some places, the verse the author put together was stilted for the sake of rhyme and that, in places, made for a somewhat clumsy read aloud. Also, I found it difficult to transition from the sing-song verse of the storyline to the [more beautiful] poetry the author put together.

Still, the book is enjoyable. For those inclined to follow “rabbit trails” of learning, the author has kindly provided an author’s note with more information on monks and illuminations, and a list of resources for even more reading.

Details

  • Author: C. M. Millen
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing; new edition (July 1, 2010)
  • Hardcover 32 pages
  • Reading Age: Age 6+, 1st grade +

What You Need to Know

the ink garden of brother theophane

  • Role Models/Authority Figures -
  • Violence – None
  • Sexual Content - None
  • Language – No foul language
  • Consumerism – None.
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – None
  • Religion – Respectful portrayal of monks transcribing and illuminating texts
  • Other – Be forewarned: your kids may want to collect plants to try their hand at making natural dye!
  • Awards

 

Crafty Chloe by Kelly DiPucchio

Summary

Chloe is not good at much. But boy can she craft! But can Chloe craft a birthday present for her best friend, Emma? Should she even try?

Review

I originally borrowed this book from the library because Heather Ross illustrated it. Being a dabbler in all things “home economics” myself, I am drawn to Heather Ross’ various fabric lines and was compelled to check out the book. The storyline is cute enough, Chloe likes to make things and is very good enough. But is she good enough at making things to make a birthday present for her best friend? This, of course, is the question at the heart of many (if not all) “crafters.” Can I possibly give something I made to someone else and call it a gift? For the record, Chloe has more fortitude than I. And that’s good.

That said, I found the writing to be overly simplistic, young, and boring.  I understand it’s a picture a book and, as such, is targeted to 4 year olds. But it has been my experience that 4 year olds have no problem making gifts of whatever in any particular moment. Rather, the older girls (and boys, too) – say 7,8,9 and above – who are suddenly inflicted with the “homemade is not good enough” syndrome. I was hoping for Chloe to be “cool” for them (do those girls even say “cool” anymore?)

A cute enough, book, though. And I can’t get enough of the illustrations (see? I told you I liked Heather Ross). Additionally, Chloe’s website – linked at the back of the book – has some fun crafty things to make and do.

Details

  • Author: Kelly DiPucchio
  • Publisher: Athenium Books for Young Readers (February 21, 2012)
  • Hardcover 40 pages
  • Reading Age: Ages 4+

What You Need to Know

  • Role Models/Authority Figures - Chloe makes things, and is unselfish.
  • Violence – None.
  • Sexual Content - None.
  • Language – None.
  • Consumerism – None. Chloe makes her stuff instead of buying it.
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – None.
  • Religion – None.
  • Other – there is an internet link to www.craftychloe.com in the back of the book
  • Awards