Search Reviews

Please note that search is case-sensitive. Searching for author "chesterton" will NOT find items by G.K. Chesterton.

Aquinas 101

A Basic Introduction to the Thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas
Author(s): 
Francis Selman
Copyright: 
2007
Publisher: 
Ave Maria Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
224 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

If you, like me, had very little to no Thomistic Philosophy in high school or college, and would love to know more, this book is for you. What a pleasure for me it has been to read Aquinas 101 in preparation for this review. The book brings forth a surprisingly readable and sometimes funny Saint Thomas!

To begin, I quote from the publisher's site, Ave Maria Press:

A brief, engaging, and readable summary of the influential thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the Catholic Church's greatest minds. In this clear, thoughtful and immensely readable book, Francis Selman offers summaries on some of the most complex topics in the writing of St. Thomas Aquinas. Selman deftly draws on the work of contemporary scholars while situating Aquinas in relation to the thinkers and schools of thought he was both confronting and drawing upon. The result provides an overview that places the thought of Aquinas both in his time and in our own.

The author succeeds indeed in both bringing the thought and philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas to students (or the interested reader) and in making it contemporary by referring to recent writings on St. Thomas.

The Prologue is a very nice biography of the saint's life, leaving the reader with admiration for him and interest for his thought. The language is light, down-to-earth, using quotidian anecdotes to shed clarity. Saint Thomas Aquinas comes through the book as a friendly, practical counselor. For instance, on page 114 we read:

For sorrow, St. Thomas Aquinas recommends four remedies: weeping, the company of friends, pleasure, and warm baths.

The paragraph that follows goes into the reasons St. Thomas believes these four remedies will help anyone in sorrow. So true, and so practical! Of course, the book also goes into more meaty philosophy, but it refrains from being too dense for the lay reader.

I also like the fact that Saint Thomas is referred to as Saint Thomas throughout the book.

In the Catholic homeschool, this book would make a very good choice for a High School introductory course on the philosophy of Saint Thomas.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
12-22-2007
Reviewed by: 

Archaeology for Kids

Uncovering the Mysteries of Our Past
Author(s): 
Richard Panchyk
ISBN: 
1 556 523 955
Copyright: 
2001
Publisher: 
Chicago Review Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
146 pages
Subject(s): 
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

I am always very receptive to this kind of book -- suggestions for activities kids will enjoy completing, factual data presented in a pleasing way, and an author who obviously loves the subject matter. The book recommends the book for children aged nine and up. Sounds like it would be a great resource for homeschoolers, yes?

Well, I think it would be useful for some home bookshelves, but not for all. First, I don’t think the “age 9” is do-able. It seems to me the level of the activities and the text are more suited to a very interested 11- or 12-year-old and up. However, the text contains no pronunciation key for any of the terms, and some of the technical terms do not even have contextual definitions. Although there is a glossary in the back, this too doesn’t tell the reader how to pronounce some of the unusual words and is not an exhaustive glossary – many of the technical terms used in the book are not in the glossary.

Taking into consideration the above shortfalls, this book would still be a useful resource in the homeschool classroom, particularly for a student interested in history or archaeology. The material is written by an author who is very interested in the subject matter. The chapters progress in a roughly chronological way: from “how archaeology works”, through the first peoples, the Ice and Stone ages, the first civilizations (including their economic base), and then on to the Greeks and Romans and the ancient cultures of the New World.

Mr. Panchyk is covering much ground here and so his information is going to be broad-brush rather than fine-point. But this book would be useful as a supplementary resource when studying ancient cultures or to pique the student’s interest in archaeology and help them to follow-up with other resources. For a high school student, this would be a wonderful “elective” to tag onto history class as he goes into detail of how archaeology is done.

Review Date: 
8-27-05
Reviewed by: 

Archimedes and the Door of Science

Book cover: 'Archimedes and the Door of Science'
Author(s): 
Jeanne Bendick
Copyright: 
1962
Publisher: 
Bethlehem Books
Binding: 
Sewn Softcover
Number of pages: 
142 pages
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Archimedes, the reknowned ancient Greek Scientist and Mathematician, had an enormous impact on all science and math since his time. This is his story, simply and even humorously told. The reader is introduced to many important concepts discovered and used by Archimedes including the lever, the pulley and his famous discoveries involving water displacement. (Numerous black and white drawings aid immensely in understanding these concepts). I love books which take concepts that have been made over-complex by modern textbooks and show how they are simple enough to be understood by children. Particularly interesting is the chapter entitled "The War Machines of Archimedes" which relates the story of his defense of Sicily by the use of Science: machines which hurled stones at the enemy and carefully designed mirrors which reflected sunlight on the enemy ships so intensely that they caught fire.Homeschoolers will appreciate Laura Berquist's helpful hints (in the introduction) for incorporating this book into your own curriculum. Keep in mind that this isn't just a Science book - it's an appropriate addition to the study of Ancient Greece and a Math Supplement as well. The complete index is useful for referring to particular topics

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Armor of God

Book cover: 'Armor of God'
Copyright: 
2003
Publisher: 
Ascension Press
Binding: 
Other
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

The Armor of God pictures a soldier in full battle gear - sword, shield, helmet, etc. - with descriptions explaining their figurative meaning according to Ephesians 6:10-18:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication for all the saints.

This attractive chart is great in a classroom or on a bedroom wall. The back of the chart includes four reproducible worksheets. Available laminated or unlaminated.

My son Gus (age 8) says: "I think that it is especially good for boys."

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Binding details: 19 3/8" x 26" Wall Chart

Review Date: 
5-8-04
Reviewed by: 

Around the Year Once Upon a Time Saints

Author(s): 
Ethel Pochocki
Illustrator(s): 
Ben Hatke
Copyright: 
2009
Publisher: 
Bethlehem Books
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
211 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This is a lovely gem of a book, covering about thirty saints, organized according to the calendar year, by their feast day. Like her previous publications from Bethlehem Books (Once Upon a Time Saints and More Once Upon a Time Saints), these stories are intended to capture the essence of holy men and women through the sometimes fantastical stories that are likely to capture the imagination of young children. Here is what the author wrote about her own stories:

Fairy tales clear the way for sanctity. They are the child's first morality play, clear-cut, no-nonsense black and white, good and evil, life and death - with a bit of fun thrown in to alleviate the pain. The lives of the saints, so filled with derring-do, gaiety, charm and courage, are all the more fantastic because the persons are real, even though they might seem right out of the pages of Hans Christian Andersen.

You will not find dates and statistics here, except where they seem necessary to explain how or why a saint got to his particular spot. And I have used the embroidery of legend because I feel that under its eye-catching trivia, there is the good homespun of fact. Sometimes it has been hard to discover which facts are the real facts. In reading six books about one saint, you may have as many versions of his or her death - he may have died on the battlefield, in the arms of a wife or son, pinned to a tree with seven arrows... or a combination of all three.

There was a little bit in the story of Juan Diego that bothered me (a little off on the Aztec story) and an aspect of the story of St. Nicholas that I thought pretty disturbing for young children. These little things make it probably better for a read-aloud with younger children (and really, it makes an excellent read-aloud!). A few spots made me furrow my brow or seemed just a little too silly, but these have been more than compensated for by some incredibly beautiful stories that are really well done.

One story that particular stood out for me was the one St. Paul Miki and St. Charles Lwanga. It has an absolutely stunning and incredibly appropriate explanation of the martyrs for children. Fabulous stuff and my children and I enjoyed the book very much.

Oh yes, and Ben Hatke's illustrations (he also illustrated Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman) are wonderful!

Review Date: 
8-4-2009
Reviewed by: 

Art 1 for Young Catholics

Book cover: 'Art 1 for Young Catholics'
Publisher: 
Seton Press
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This course follows the liturgical year. It begins with Advent. There are a total of forty-four projects. Each one has an explanation.

***EXAMPLE OF LESSON*** For example the next one we are going to do is "The Grotto at Lourdes" on pg 12. It begins with "Celebrate - February 11, OUR LADY OF LOURDES. February 11 is the anniversary day of the first apparition of Our Day at Lourdes, France. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a 14 yr old girl named Bernadette Soubirous eighteen times between Feb 11 and July 16, 1858. On March 25, 1858, Bernadette asked the beautiful lady to identify herself. Mary answered, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Mary also asked for penance and prayer. Bernadette was told by Our Lady to have a chapel built there and to have people come in precessions. A miraculous spring of fresh wat4er came forth from the ground and to this day, many people have been cured by the healing waters that come from the spring.

The lesson then has suggestions for the parent to find more info on the topic. Then the project is listed. In this case we need Pattern # 10, glue, scissors, green and red tissue paper, brown, green and yellow construction paper, crayons or markers and gold glitter. The instructions are giving in steps. 1. Color the picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Drape glue on the halo and roses at Mary's feet. Sprinkle with glitter.
2. Cut out patterns for the grotto, oval and vine.
3. Place grotto pattern on brown paper, trace and cut one.
4. Place oval pattern on yellow paper, trace and cut one.
5. Place vine pattern on green paper, trace and cut two.
6. Set grotto pieces aside. Glue oval in the center and glue the two vines along the sides.
7. Cut layers of green and read tissue paper into 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" squares. You will need more green than red.
8. Take each individual red square and roll into a loose ball. Glue them here and there on the vines to look like roses.
9. Take each individual green squares and slightly crumble it. Glue them to vine around roses to look like leaves.
10. Cut out figure of Mary and glue it in center of the oval.
11. Using a pen, carefully print OUR LADY OF LOURDES across the top of the grotto. Display your artwork.
*************

We are excited about this lesson because we just set up a table to use as a home altar and so far only have a few votive candles. We want to save for a nice stature of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Hearts. So until then the Grotto the kids make will grace our little table.

The other lessons cover all twelve months. There are projects for Lent, Easter, St Pat's Day, Pentecost, Ascension Thursday, Trinity Sunday, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Feast of All Saints and more. We have really enjoyed it. I have no artistic ability and this helps me to give my children art that looks like art ;-). I have also learned alot about the liturgical year from it. Also Cari and David have been able to do it together. I plan on using it again next year for projects for liturgical feasts. It really is a wonderful book.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Art 4 for Young Catholics

Book cover: 'Art 4 for Young Catholics'
Author(s): 
Reed & Roxolana Armstrong
Mary Rakow
Copyright: 
1997
Publisher: 
Seton Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
95 pages
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

What could be better than a well-planned and well-organized Catholic art textbook written by internationally-known Catholic artists who are also art historians and professors? This is the textbook! From the introduction by the authors: "The rules used here have been the time-tested tools used by artists for centuries and are based on natural law and common sense. Once acquired, these skills are not only transferable to other disciplines but also foster genuine appreciation and discernment in the field of art and of beauty in creation."

Seton's Art 4 for Young Catholics includes 36 weekly lessons for upper-elementary aged children. The lessons build upon one another, with a few lessons carrying over from one week to the next. Unlike some of the other books in the Seton art series, the lessons do not follow the liturgical year and could be used in an order other than the way they appear in the text. Each lesson plan includes the objective of the lesson, a detailed list of required materials that are easily and inexpensively available, and step-by-step instructions with many illustrations to show the student and teacher what is expected. Art history and appreciation topics are featured in several lessons with thirteen full-color plates and numerous black-and-white plates for careful study. Topics of instruction range from line, contour, texture, color, symbolism, contrast, dimension, symmetry, to balance and design.

Although the book is sold as the text for Seton's 4th grade, it is very appropriate for children up through the 6th grade for a multi-level homeschool class or co-op. I've been using this course this year very successfully with an art-talented 3rd grader and an art-challenged 6th grader, and I'm thrilled with it. Not only are my students developing basic art skills and basic art sense, they are also being introduced to traditional art works featuring Catholic subjects.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
11-8-03
Reviewed by: 

Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Solve the Crime!

Book cover: 'Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Solve the Crime!'
Author(s): 
Anna Nilsen
Copyright: 
2000
Publisher: 
Kingfisher/Houghton Mifflin
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
48 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This is an exciting and fun art supplement that kids are sure to love (makes a great gift for Christmas or a birthday). There are three main parts to the book. First is an introduction which explains a problem the art museum is having with forgeries. Several gangs of artists have copied original works, but made very slight changes to them. The object of the book is to identify who is responsible for the various forgeries by looking carefully for very specific clues.

The rest of the book is split into two books on top of each other. The upper part is composed of the forgeries - which look like real art until you look very closely (and thus the magnifying glass). A small symbol on the forgery will tell you how many changes the forger made to the original work. By studying the lower book - which is an art catalog with prints of the real paintings, the reader will discover the differences and solve the crime. The catalog includes information about the type of painting; the artist and when he lived; and a brief story about the painting and its subject. There are a total of thirty-four paintings and there is a complete answer key in the back of the book.

What a creative way to get kids interested in art and...fear not! You'll find no twaddle here. I was very pleased to see the practice in attention-to-detail that this book requires and encourages. It's enjoyable enough that my daughter has enjoyed working through it with friends on sleep-overs. There is one picture that jumps out at me as being a little on the shocking side. It's a picture of a very ugly old lady in a very low-cut dress. The book explains that it is a caricature of older women who try to dress younger but really make themselves look ridiculous. I don't really like the picture, but I don't think it really detracts from the book (it also offers the idea of additional purpose in art and an unusual way of making a point).

Additional notes: 

A magnifying glass on a ribbon is bound in

Review Date: 
7-19-04
Reviewed by: 

Art Masterpieces: A Liturgical Collection

Book cover: 'Art Masterpieces: A Liturgical Collection'
Publisher: 
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

We enjoy CHC products a great deal because they fit naturally into our homeschool and family life. This little art appreciation course is no exception.

Arranged around the liturgical year, the package includes ten beautiful 8" x 10" full color, masterpiece reproductions featuring ten different artists (e.g. Michelangelo, Botticelli, Rembrandt, da Vinci) and a 25 page art appreciation guide. The guide provides excellent suggestions for teaching art appreciation in general (those who are familiar with the Charlotte Mason approach will be right at home) as well as specific suggestions for individual masterpiece focusing on content, line, color, pattern, and design. The information gleaned from this guide can easily be applied to other works of art you may already have in your home too.

In addition to the general use section, the guide devotes one page per month to the study of a particular masterpiece. A monthly theme is suggested along with ideas for integrating the study of the particular artwork into family life. Like other CHC products, this package has incorporated Catholic ideals into a program that is enlightening and edifying while remaining something that real families can easily work into their daily school and family life.

When we first received our package I immediately put all of the pictures into a frame, with the June masterpiece on top. I made a pocket on the cardboard backing to hold the booklet and we have weekly discussions about the picture that now hangs in our living room. Occasionally I take the booklet out of the pocket behind the picture and flip to some discussion prompts about line, form, etc. The children enjoy the looking at all the details in the picture while I ask questions and my husband is delighted to have a variety of religious pictures to brighten our room.

Review Date: 
9-16-02
Reviewed by: 

Art Masters Enhance Religion

Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

If you are looking for an easy to use art appreciation program that uses beautiful artwork, then you will want to check out the Art Masters Enhance Religion program.

Created by the Enhance Company, this is a unique art appreciation course that can be integrated with any religion program or stand by itself. In addition to their K-8 Grade School Curriculum, the Enhance Company also produces a Home School Series. There are four grade levels.

The Primary program (Gr. K-2) includes a parent’s booklet plus twelve 11” x 14” prints. The theme is Penance and Holy Eucharist.

The Intermediate level (Gr. 3-5) includes a parent’s booklet plus twelve 11” x 14” prints, eight 5” x 8” laminated prints, and rosary booklet. The theme is the Ten Commandments and the Sacraments.

The Junior High level (Gr. 6-8) includes a parent’s booklet plus ten 11” x 14” prints and ten 5” x 8” laminated prints. The theme is Confirmation.

The Junior High/Senior High level (Gr. 6-12) includes a parent’s booklet plus forty-six 5” x 8” laminated prints. The theme is the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Because the 11” x 14” prints are large, they are ideal for “classroom display.” If you have always wondered what to put on that easel gathering dust, now you know! The quality of the large prints is outstanding. They are frameable. Most of the prints are of famous artists such as Michelangelo’s Pieta. There are, however, some lesser known artists because of the message the authors want to convey. For example, Nuner-Segura’s The Breaking of the Bread is used for First Communion. Many, but not all, of the smaller laminated prints are black and white. The authors of this program are looking for another source for affordable, small color prints.

What makes this program so wonderful is the background information and discussion questions. In the parent’s booklet, every print includes an easy to use, concise, one page write up that includes the theme, e.g. The Flight into Egypt; information about the artist, Giotto, when he lived, biographical information and other pertinent facts, such as the style of the painting or the school of art; the title of the painting and description of the painting; questions related to the aesthetics, e.g. Who does the Christ Child seem to be looking at in the picture?; Art Criticism Questions, e.g. How did the artist show movement?; and Projects. Read the Bible message (Matt. 2: 13-15). Discuss.

There is also an overview of the program in each parent booklet that explains general terms such as Art History, Aesthetics, Art Production, etc.

For many of us, we look at a painting or a work of art and we are at a loss as to what to discuss with our children. We know that we like a painting, yet we find it difficult to articulate our reasons why.

With the Art Masters Enhance Religion program, we are given the tools to begin a greater appreciation and deeper understanding of art through beautiful artwork, thoughtful discussion questions and related projects.

This religion program offers an integrated approach to religion and art, making life a little easier for mom. Although each grade level is geared to a particular grade level because of the typical religious topic at that age, this program could easily be adapted by any grade level. You don’t need to be an art critic to use this program. The material is all laid out for you. Except for the discussion questions, which work best with another adult, although the student could write out the answers, an older child could easily do this program independently.

Even if your school year becomes hectic and overwhelming with too many activities, too much curriculum, and too little time, you can still display these beautiful works of art and enjoy them as a whole family. Art doesn’t have to be something extra that never gets done. Art can also be appreciating fine works of art displayed in your own home.

Review Date: 
8-1-06
Reviewed by: 

Pages