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Truth and Life Dramatized Audio Bible - New Testament

Copyright: 
2010
Publisher: 
Zondervan
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This is a beautifully-performed, profesionally produced complete dramatization of the New Testament in the reknowned Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (sometimes referred to as the Ignatius Bible). John Rhys-Davies (who plays Gimli in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films) as narrator leads a great cast that includes Neal McDonough (Minority Report, Band of Brothers) as Jesus, Julia Ormond (Sabrina, First Knight) as Mary, Sean Astin (Sam in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings) as Matthew and Michael York (Jesus of Nazareth, Murder on the Orient Express) as Luke.

There was a time, not long ago, when such beautiful biblical resources for families were only found with the Protestant versions of the Bible. Happily that is no longer the case!

You can download free audio samples at the publisher's website: Truth and Life Dramatized Audio Bible. This resource can be ordered on 18 CDs from many bookstores or it can be ordered as an audio download through Audible.com. Ignatius Press offers this in a special package that includes a bonus audio CD from Steve Ray (from the Footprints of God Series) on the Gospel of St. John.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
4-18-2011
Reviewed by: 

Truth Was Their Star

Book cover: 'Truth Was Their Star'
Author(s): 
Sr. Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P.
Copyright: 
1947
Publisher: 
New Hope Publications
Binding: 
Catholic
Number of pages: 
124 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Recently republished by New Hope Publications, the lay Dominican community in New Hope KY, Truth Was Their Star by Sr. Mary Jean Dorcy, OP offers a gentle introduction to various Dominican saints. Naturally, since she is a Dominican, she would be interested in sharing the lives of several Dominican saints. While not talking down to the child, the text is written as though speaking to a younger child. Each chapter is really an introduction to a particular saint offering a vignette about his or her life, or encapsulating a series of popular stories about the saint. These stories do not offer an in-depth analysis or completely cover the details of their lives. Each chapter is accompanied by a lovely paper cut silhouette, which Sr. Mary Jean is very famous for.

My one and only complaint with the book is the inaccurate statement in the book that people thought that the world was flat during the time of Christopher Columbus. This can be easily corrected by pointing out to the child that this is untrue. Christopher Columbus believed that the world was round, and therefore was hoping to go to the east by sailing west.

Originally published in 1947, this paperback is 124 pages with a beautiful silhouette on the cover. The suggested reading level is Gr. 6 to adult, but I think a younger child - advanced 3rd grade, 4th or 5th - would enjoy the book. It would also make an ideal read aloud to a younger child.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher

Book cover: 'Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher'
Author(s): 
Luke M. Grande, F.S.C.
Copyright: 
1962
Publisher: 
Roman Catholic Books
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
160 pages
Review: 

Based on twelve virtues that St. John Baptist de La Salle, patron saint of teachers, thought important for teachers to know, Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher is a reprint from 1962 that elaborates on these virtues. St. John Baptist de La Salle was an educational reformer and founder of the Brothers of Christian Schools in France during the 17th Century.

Although it is easy to understand, it is a book to read, digest, and reflect upon over and over again. In fact, it is a book that you would like to highlight every couple of pages, because of the pearls of wisdom it provokes the reader to meditate on. Even though the book is primarily written for teachers and many of the examples are addressed specifically for teachers, there is much that could be applied to parenting, since parents are the primary educators of their children, whether or not they choose to homeschool them.

When we are in the midst of the school year or even as we are planning the coming school year, it is easy for us to focus on the curriculum. Much of education is really character formation. It is the setting of the children's habits for a lifetime. What is a virtue? . . ."Virtue is a good habit"(46). What kind of virtues do we want our children to strive for? We can begin by setting an example for our children by striving to live the twelve virtues discussed in this book. By living them on a daily basis, we will be inculcating in our children habits that will last them a lifetime.

Too often as parents, we think, "if only" this child was more cheerful, patient, kind, etc., life would be so much simpler. It is much easier to focus on the faults of the child or the problem and forget to analyze our response to the child or the situation. This book is a wake up call to the teacher to consider his or her role in the education of the child. What is my example to my students?

By reading the list of virtues covered in this book (wisdom, prudence, piety, zeal, generosity, justice, kindness, firmness, humility, patience, seriousness, and silence), we may think, "What's the big deal? Is this just another self-help book? I already know those things." But do we really? And more importantly, do we live them?

This book asks the Catholic teacher to pause and carefully consider, "Do I live these virtues?" As Catholics, our viewpoint as teachers and parents should be radically different. We need to meditate on each one of these virtues. For example, "Wisdom sees the integrity of the Divine Plan; by its light the truly wise man sees--at least in broad outline--the relationship of one truth to another, the beginning and the end of Creation, one principle to another"(26). The teacher is asked "to see with the eyes of God"(26) and not the eyes of man. Another quote for the reader to contemplate is "Above all, wisdom enables a teacher to discern the part played by his own efforts in the scheme of Divine Providence, his high calling as a co-operator with God in His plans for men"(27).

In our striving for academic excellence, as parent-teachers with high and noble goals, we may sometimes put our pride before the needs of the child. In discussing the virtue of prudence, the author comments, "There is a time for the teaching of Dostoevski or calculus, but the prudent man reflects long and weighs the pros and cons carefully before, if ever, he attempts to teach them in a sophomore high-school class"(43).

When discussing the virtue of piety, the author reminds us that our example is of paramount importance. He quotes St. La Salle, "'Let us practice before their eyes what we are trying to teach them. We will make a greater impression on them by a wise and modest conduct than by a multitude of words'"(53). The author reminds the reader that "In a thousand ways he reveals to his students every day the depth and reality of his devotion to God"(53).

These are but a few of the pearls of wisdom to arouse the reader to examine her role as teacher in the impressionable lives of her students. As teachers and parents, we are learning right along beside our students. We are learning to strive to live the life of a saint. This is a difficult goal. In a world that offers many distractions, this book refocuses our attention on the higher things. It offers advice and encouragement to be a better teacher, and in a round about way, to be a better parent.

In closing, let us ponder one last thought. "It is kindness, the virtue which flows from the heart and leads the teacher to think of and to act toward the students as Christ would, that is of paramount importance for him, if he is to effect the greatest good in his students" (95). . . ."acts of kindness spring from love, in imitation of the acts of a loving Christ who said, 'Love one another, as I have loved you'(John 13:34)"(95).

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
7-13-04
Reviewed by: 

Twenty and Ten

Book cover: 'Twenty and Ten'
Author(s): 
Claire Huchet Bishop
Copyright: 
1952
Publisher: 
Viking Press
Number of pages: 
76 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

A very remarkable true story of twenty Catholic children, living in the country (to escape the war) with their teacher (a Catholic nun) who agree to hide ten Jewish children from the Nazis. The children show great heroism in offering to share even their meager food and bedding with these children and bravely face the Nazis alone while their teacher is detained. The story is a bit suspenseful, but ends beautifully (and a bit poetically) and could be read-aloud to fairly young children (Approximately 4th grade reading level). Highly recommended!

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1-12-01
Reviewed by: 

Typing Tutor 10

Book cover: 'Typing Tutor 10'
Subject(s): 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

CD ROM for Windows 95/98 and Power Macintosh
Used on Windows ME and Windows XP systems for this review

In the era of the personal computer, good typing skills are essential. Children will benefit tremendously from learning to type while they're still in grade school, and Typing Tutor 10 is all you'll need to teach this valuable skill.

The program begins by asking for skill level (beginner, hunt-and- peck, or touch typist). Depending on the level, there may be a placement test. After that, there are 32 standard lessons, plus additional customized lessons for certain keys, or for strengthening certain fingers. A dynamic display shows the proper placement of fingers on the keyboard for each letter as it's typed. An envelope icon appears on the screen for each new lesson, containing instructions for what to do next.

A great feature of this program is the customization menu, which allows you to adapt the program in a myriad of ways. The learner (or teacher) can set the length of lessons (from 1 to 9 minutes), the background color and music (with selections from classical, jazz, pop, etc.), the font size, and more. The program has "practice sessions", with over a hundred different excerpts from books and magazines. Many of the selections are classics (Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland, Sense and Sensibility). I found only one magazine article that might be objectionable (in the category of New Age, on "Channeling"). The solution is simple: use the customization screen to eliminate that category as a choice.

There are eight highly entertaining games, which are a nice break from the lessons while still providing practice time. My kids and I have had great fun trying to outrace the leaping frog on the stone path by typing words more rapidly than the frog can jump, or trying to keep our log-rolling contestant on his spinning log by typing as rapidly and accurately as possible.

Progress reports, which can be viewed onscreen or printed out, give a thorough summary of lessons completed, length of sessions in minutes, typing speed in words-per-minute, and accuracy ratings. These make a nice portfolio entry for homeschool record-keeping.

I would recommend Typing Tutor 10 for children starting at about age 10, after they've had a few years to work on their penmanship, and at just about the time they're expected to begin writing longer reports and essays. It's versatile enough for anyone to use, though, including teens and adults.

Additional notes: 

I learned to type when I was a freshman in high school using a much earlier version of Typing Tutor (on the Commodore 64). My typing proficiency that began with this program was such that I was typing at 100 wpm + by junior year and paid my way through college with secretarial jobs. I was very pleased to find this newer version of Typing Tutor to use with my own children and find the structure and format to be quite similar. - A.V.H. (4-21-04)

Review Date: 
4-14-04
Reviewed by: 

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Book cover: 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'
Author(s): 
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Copyright: 
1952
Publisher: 
Penguin/Signet Classics
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
496 pages
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

There are a plethora of resources for you to find out the plot of this book out on the web and in the bookstores (eg. Cliffs Notes!!). Many contain "spoilers". And this is OK - after all it's a classic. Moreover, the book is good even if you know what is going to happen. I had the enjoyable luxury of reading this book without having run across the spoilers and with no real knowledge of the plot. I was not required to read it in school - oh happy fault.

The story is about slavery in America. It follows the lives of two slaves in detail, Eliza and Uncle Tom, and introduces us to a great many more slaves and masters and their stories. The two belong to the same master in Kentucky. When the master falls on hard times (from his own inability to manage his estate) he ends up making a deal to sell these two - despite the fact that both of them are rather dear to him and his family. Getting wind of this Eliza decides to run for safety with her son while Uncle Tom allows himself to be taken away from his wife and young children. Eliza risks her life to save her child - running across the ice floes of a partially frozen Ohio river to escape - then finds her way along an underground network. (I won't tell you how her story comes out.) Uncle Tom is sold and resold. He is steadfast in his faith throughout - though not unchanging. Moreover, he affects those who he meets along the way.

This book is written in a very foreign style. - at least to the modern reader. Chronologically Mrs. Stowe's style fits somewhere between that of the crafters of the Constitution and that of Mark Twain. But it is not so easy to put it into any other category. Her own narration is a bit archaic, overtly Christian, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes patronizing, and yet very broad minded. She calls you "gentle reader". She says "now don't you think that is fair?" when she expects you to come to the opposite conclusion. And yet she sees clearly through all the haze of the issue - i.e. the "shades of grey" everyone loves to talk about when they can't bear to say right vs. wrong. And she does more - she presents us with characters who take various positions on the slavery issue. Not just "it's right" and "it's wrong" - but a wide variety of views. She allows them ample voice and reason to discourse their whole argument; she does not make them straw men; she does not mitigate or twist their ideas; she lays out the best cases for and against - and from several different angles. In the midst of this she demonstrates the effects on the PEOPLE who are subjected to the system - those who are the masters as well as those who are the slaves. It is incredibly revealing to have the whole gamut - the entire conversation - all in one accessable story. And it is incredibly convincing!!! Which is why, as legend has it, Abe Lincoln, when introduced to her for the first time declared, "So you're the little lady responsible for this big war."

This book ought to be read for a lot of different reasons.

1) Arguments aren't just fights. When properly done they are tools to get at the truth. This book shows how to argue in the best sense. Reasonable people may have views that are wrong - and can be changed by convincing. (Admittedly, most of those in this book are not, ultimately, convinced - but some are - it's good to see).

2) Style! You have to get a taste of this style of hers. It is a peculiar dish that we rarely see set before us these days (how much early 19th century do you typically read!!).

3) Faith. Uncle Tom has faith in God. It grows stronger and better through his trials. And, it has effects on those he meets and deals with to different degrees and in different ways. (That's realistic.)

4) It shows us that a story can be an extremely convincing form of persuasion.

5) There is a lot revealed about the fundamental nature of man and his free will by exploring the effects of stifling that free will via enslavement. Her characters vary wildly in their reaction to the invisible wall between master and slave. The slaves will react, contort and re-form (or de-form) themselves to this unnatural order. The slave owners must likewise be ignorant or somehow justify their actions. To the author's credit we see that the justification is sometimes wicked or perverted and sometimes just well-meaning but ultimately flawed reasoning.

6) One thing that kind of percolates up from 5) is that there is a difference between the will and the intellect. Philosophers have argued about this for millenia. Many people believe that if someone knows what the good thing is they will naturally want to do it. But knowing and doing ARE different. And some may know what is good but not do it. Some may even want to do what is not good and through an underhanded twist of the will convince themselves (and really THINK they know) that the bad is good. The sooner a person can grasp the difference between the intellect and the will the more they will be able to direct their own thoughts and actions maturely, profitably and honorably.

7) Believe it or Not! This book has some incredible (as in not believable) events. However, Mrs. Stowe, it turns out had done a lot or research. Most of the events were gathered from real events. Even the more incredible ones such as Eliza crossing the river. - Don't try that at home!!!

Age level: High School Freshman +/- a year. Kleenex required.

Additional notes: 

Many editions available

Review Date: 
7-29-04
Reviewed by: 

Up and Down the River

Book cover: 'Up and Down the River'
Author(s): 
Rebecca Caudill
Copyright: 
1951
Publisher: 
Bethlehem Books
Series: 
Fairchild Family
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
143 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Six year old Bonnie and eight year old Debbie decide early one summer that they want to get rich. Nosing their way through magazines they decide upon some simple investments - selling a few items around to their neighbors and raising ducklings. They keep up the projects all summer, but the rewards don't turn out quite the way they expected. Rejoin the Fairchild family for a charming summertime in a time and place where the pace of life was a little slower and the joys of childhood were many.

Additional notes: 

Donated for review by Bethlehem Books

Review Date: 
4-27-05
Reviewed by: 

Up Periscope

Author(s): 
Robb White
Copyright: 
1960
Publisher: 
Scholastic Books
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
220 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

Robb White brings us an exciting historical fiction tale of life aboard a military submarine in the Pacific in World War II. Someone's been transmitting top-secret plans from the American base in Hawaii to Tokyo. The Americans have learned that transmissions are being sent from Hawaii to an island in the mid-Pacific and from there to Japan. They believe they've located the island where the transmissions are being passed along, but have been unable to break the special code being used there. Ken Braden, a lieutenant in the naval reserves, is commissioned to fulfil the dangerous and highly secretive mission to covertly land on this island and steal the code.

This dramatic story gives an accurate picture of the thrills, frustrations and dangers of life aboard a submarine. Some interesting details of military history regarding conflicts between the Japanese navy and U.S. submarines help readers understand the importance of withholding information from the enemy during wartime (especially for members of the media!). The story gets pretty intense towards the end and would be best for ages 12 or 13 and up. Although the book is currently out-of-print, Scholastic paperbacks like this tend to show up frequently at rummage sales, used book stores and used sources on the Internet such as eBay.

Additional notes: 

Copyrights 1956/1960

Review Date: 
4-26-02
Reviewed by: 

Upbringing

Author(s): 
James Stenson
Subject(s): 
Review: 

Most parenting books seem to like to preach that their way is either God's way or the natural way or the positive way, leaving the reader to believe that if they do not raise their child in this manner they are either un-Christian, unnatural or negative. So it was very refreshing to come across Upbringing by James Stenson. Mr. Stenson has started two boys' high schools and been an observer of Catholic families for many years. His observations are based on his experiences with successful families. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. In Upbringing, he puts together a list of characteristics that are common to families that have raised their children to become successful adults.

The book is a quick and easy read. It is designed for discussion with other families, but your spouse will do if this is not your cup of tea. Mr. Stenson begins with a discussion of character and the virtues/qualities that we would want to see in our children. (including the theological virtues - Faith, Hope and Charity and the cardinal virtues - prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance). He explains them in easy to understand language and then argues that a lack of these virtues in an adult boils down to immaturity or childishness. The opposites of these 7 virtues, faithlessness, despair, egoism, immature judgement, irresponsibility, softness and self-indulgence are all (with the exception of despair) vestiges of childhood. He links a lack of temperance in childhood with an inability to practice a religion that requires any sort of sacrifice in adulthood. He then goes on to list 7 reasons why there is such a lack of character formation in children today.

The second chapter profiles successful parents. He notes that the diversity among successful parents is striking. Some are energetic extroverts, some are quiet and mild-mannered, and all have personal faults and doubts. Nevertheless, they all have several traits in common.

In the 3rd chapter of the book, Mr. Stenson lists 18 Life Lessons in Reality. These are fun. They were quite a shock to me when I finally got out on my own. Things like: School is not Life, TV is not Life, Comfort and Convenience are a By-Product of a Successful Life, not its Purpose, etc.

I encourage you to obtain a copy of any of James Stenson's books. Other titles are Preparing for Peer Pressure, Successful Fathers, Preparing for Adolescence, and Lifeline, The Religious Education of Children.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Viking Adventure

Book cover: 'Viking Adventure'
Author(s): 
Clyde Robert Bulla
Illustrator(s): 
Douglas Gorsline
Copyright: 
1963
Publisher: 
Thomas Y. Crowell Company
Number of pages: 
117 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This book tells the story of Sigurd, a young Viking boy who hears his father tell tales of adventures sailing to far lands and longs for adventures of his own. It looks like his dreams may come true when his father's friend Gorm comes to his home and tells of his plan to sail for the legendary land of Wineland, west of Greenland.

The adventure soon takes an ominous turn as the ship encounters storms and the fears and dreams of the ship's owner, Halfred, who wants to turn back. The quarrel reaches a pitch between Gorm and Halfred, with murderous results that change Sigurd's life forever.

This book is one of many historical adventures written by Clyde Robert Bulla, and it is fast-paced and exciting like his others. Because of this, it might be a good book for an older reluctant reader. There is an interesting sub-plot about the value of the written word - at the beginning Sigurd refuses to learn to read and write because he doesn't see the point in his warrior culture, but in the end he changes his views when he has a valuable story to tell.

The terse style and fast pace is reminiscent of Norse sagas, and the lesson - that it takes hard work to become strong and skilled, and that even a warrior culture needs readers and writers - is a good one for a young person struggling to become literate. The reading level is probably about 2nd or early 3rd grade. I recommend this book for children ages 6 and up - a younger child could probably understand it, but might be upset by the fact that several main characters die during the course of the story.

Review Date: 
3-26-01
Reviewed by: 

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