The Blessed Mother

Catholic Children's Treasure Box, Volumes 7 and 8

Author(s): 
Maryknoll Sisters
Subject(s): 
Review: 

These two volumes of the Treasure Box Books contain a very simple story of Mary's life, appropriate for very young children. The full-color illustrations are quite charming. Please note that this story has the marriage of Mary and Joseph come before the Annunciation, which is not in accordance with the actual Bible account. Perhaps the authors felt that very young children weren't ready to understand this part of the story.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

It's a Mystery! The Secret Garden

Book cover: 'It's a Mystery! The Secret Garden'
Author(s): 
Sandra Garant
Copyright: 
2004
Publisher: 
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Binding: 
Other
Number of pages: 
104 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

It's a Mystery! It's a Hit! Summer vacation will never be the same. Traditionally, Vacation Bible School curricula are either strongly Protestant or only vaguely Christian. Now there is an alternative that is not only Catholic but also lots of fun for everyone.

The Secret Garden is the third in a series of weeklong retreats for Catholic children. The program is designed for use as a parish summer program or a family-based unit study. It could be completed at any time of the year, but this one would be especially nice in warmer weather because of the garden theme and outdoor activities. This retreat introduces Catholic Marian dogma and focuses on developing the virtues, especially that of patience.

Both the teacher's guide and the student's appendix feature simple black-and-white line drawings. Don't let the non-glitzy presentation fool you; this program has excellent, solid content. Materials for the retreat leader include advertising and organizing suggestions as well as specific teaching points and background information. Points of controversy, a history of Marian dogmas, and apologetic information are presented. Fresh and original game and craft ideas that are easy to implement are described in each day's lesson. These memorable activities will appeal to both boys and girls. Indoor and outdoor games and activities keep this physically active program moving along each day.

Advance preparation is required. Materials are comparatively inexpensive to purchase, and the snack suggestions are very simple.

Daily lesson plans for 5 one-half day sessions follow a similar pattern. The day begins with prayer and continues with a lesson time, activity and game time, lesson on patience, another game or activity, work on Mary garden project, snack, a game or activity, and the closing. A party is suggested for the final day to showcase the week’s projects. Separate, but related, plans are included for preschool (ages 2-5) and elementary (ages 5-12) groups, with some suggestions for teens. When an activity is best suited for a large group, suggestions are made for a smaller group activity. We were very successful in using The Secret Garden with a group of seven children under age 12, and we are anxiously awaiting another installment in the It's a Mystery series.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Binding details: Teacher's Guide (52 pages combbound) + Loose-leaf appendix (52 pages)

Review Date: 
3-11-06
Reviewed by: 

Marian Apparition Trading Cards from Illuminated Ink

Publisher: 
Illuminated Ink
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

The Marian Apparition Trading Cards set includes seven different lovely pictures of the Blessed Mother on the front, from Our Lady of Fatima to Our Lady of Knock and information about who, when, and why on the back. For example, for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the Who is “Our Lady of Mt. Carmel appeared to Simon Stock.” When: July 16, 1251. Why: St. Alphonsus said, “The Most Holy Mother is pleased when her servants wear Her scapular as a mark that they have dedicated themselves to Her service, and are members of the Family of the Mother of God.” The cost of the trading cards is an unbelievable $1.00. They are approximately 3” x 4”. Beautiful artwork will make them fun to color.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
5-2-2006
Reviewed by: 

Marian Grotto Kit from Illuminated Ink

Publisher: 
Illuminated Ink
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

The Marian Grotto Kit allows your child to create his or her own lovely miniature grotto of the Blessed Mother from "popsicle" sticks, a picture of the Blessed Mother to color (you can choose Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the Snows, or Our Lady of Lourdes) a Grotto background to color, polished semi-precious gemstones (Turquesite, Turritella Agate, Moss Agate and Yellow Jasper), a little booklet explaining what a Grotto is and a description of the Marian Apparition chosen, and illustrated step-by-step directions. The finished grotto can stand freely on a tabletop or be hung on a wall, and is approximately 7" tall.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
5-2-2006
Reviewed by: 

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Book cover: 'Mary, the Mother of Jesus'
Author(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Copyright: 
1995
Publisher: 
Holiday House
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

This is a very nice and very Catholic book about Mary for small children. But don't let its simplicity fool you - there is a great deal for older ones as well. There is a two page "chapter" on each of the following topics: The Presentation of the Child Mary at the Temple, The Betrothal of Joseph and Mary, The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Birth of Jesus, The Presentation of the Boy Jesus in the Temple, The Adoration of the Magi, The Flight into Egypt, The Boy Jesus in the Temple, The Marriage at Cana, The Ministry (of Jesus), Mary's Solitude (the Crucifixion), The Coming of the Holy Spirit, Mary is Taken to Heaven, and a final picture of The Queen of Heaven. Each "chapter" has one or two illustrations - in the Tomie de Paola style of course - a short verse from the Liturgy of the Hours and a simple retelling of the story.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Our Lady of Guadalupe Cut'n'Color Kit from Illuminated Ink

Publisher: 
Illuminated Ink
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Our Lady of Guadalupe Cut ‘n Color is actually a 3-dimensional story book about Our Lady of Guadalupe. Once completed, this cut, color, and assemble kit creates a lovely storybook attached to an attractive diorama that children can use with the paper dolls to act out the story. A few parts will need some adult supervision. On the bottom of the “book” are pages of the story that you turn while the diorama remains in view. Each kit includes the book, scenery, church, and paper dolls of Juan Diego, the Bishop, and Our Lady of Guadalupe all on card stock with easy to follow instructions. A craft knife or X-acto knife is required. The picture on the cover does not give justice to how beautiful this project is. Once completed, your child will have an attractive diorama to play with and a story to read over and over again.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
5-2-2006
Reviewed by: 

Precious Mary Paper Doll Set from Illuminated Ink

Publisher: 
Illuminated Ink
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

The Precious Mary Paper Doll Set comes with one 8” paper doll, Our Lady of the Kitchen, six attractive outfits (representing particular titles of Our Lady, like Our Lady of the Smile, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, etc.), a stand to tape on the back and a prayer. Everything is printed on card stock to color and cut. The artwork is lovely.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
5-2-2006
Reviewed by: 

Refuting the Attack on Mary

Author(s): 
Father Mateo
Publisher: 
Catholic Answers
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
101 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

Father Mateo was the pen name of a Catholic priest who was also a professor at a prominent university. From 1987 until his death in 1996, he hosted the “Ask Father” forum on Catholic Information Network.

“In 1987, Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Mother of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Mater), asked all Christians, ‘Why should we not all together look to Mary as our common Mother, who prays for the unity of God’s family?’ Stung somehow by the Pope’s friendly words and bothered by ‘a campaign to revive Marian devotion in the Church,’ CRI [the Christian Research Institute] goes on the attack. ‘The time has come for a Protestant response. Just as surely as a man cannot ‘take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned’ (Prov. 6:27), Catholics cannot renew their emphasis on Mary without injuring ecumenism.’” (from the Introduction)

This 101 page book is a detailed response to a two-part article from the Christian Research Institute, but also an excellent, engaging introduction to Marian apologetics and a beautiful confirmation of Church teaching – even using Protestant sources to help refute CRI and to back up his arguments!

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
10-15-2006
Reviewed by: 

Take it to the Queen

A Tale of Hope
Author(s): 
Josephine Nobisso
Illustrator(s): 
Katalin Szegedi
ISBN: 
940 112 191
Copyright: 
2008
Publisher: 
Gingerbread House Books
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
32 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

The long awaited companion to The Weight of a Mass (Nobisso, Gingerbread House Books) is finally available. In her new story Take it to the Queen, a Tale of Hope, Josephine Nobisso tells a fable that draws upon the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her material and mystical participation in our salvation. The villagers of a once favored city rebel against the goodness of the King, bringing famine and desolation. Eventually they seek the intervention of their queen, who was once of their village. It’s allegorical on several levels, and according to the author’s notes, the allegory “spans three salvific eras: Old Testament, God the Father, Creation; New Testament, God the Son, Redemption; and Coming Era of Peace, God the Holy Spirit, Sanctification.”

In her story, Mrs. Nobisso has created a thoughtful excursion through the role of Mary in time and eternity, and yet the story is engaging and uplifting even if you don’t consider the allegory.

The lush illustrations by Katalin Szegedi continue and deepen the allegory. In one picture the queen is standing in a doorway handing bread to a little girl. It looks like there is a halo behind her head, just as the saints and Mary are painted with halos. But if you look more carefully, you see that it’s part of the background; there is a series of round windows in her house, and the queen happens to be standing in front of one that makes her look like she has a halo.

The inside flaps of the book cover contain explanations of the allegories and what is included in the paintings, but it’s much more fun to look, and ponder, and try to discover them yourself.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
10-3-2008
Reviewed by: 

The Lady of Guadalupe

Book cover: 'The Lady of Guadalupe'
Author(s): 
Tomie de Paola
Copyright: 
1980
Publisher: 
Holiday House
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
44 pages
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This has been one of my family's very favorite picture books since our oldest was a toddler. It is a beautiful re-telling of a beautiful story with illustrations that complement it nicely and which are very appealing to children. I especially like Tomie de Paola's attention to detail. It's informative enough to be interesting even for adults.
The story tells of Mary's apparitions to an Indian convert, Juan Diego, in Mexico, in 1531. She asked Juan Diego to tell the bishop that she wished a church to be built. On his second visit, the bishop asked Juan to ask "the lady" for a sign. Mary sends Juan back to the bishop with fresh cut roses - even though it's the middle of December. When Juan opens his tilma (like a cloak) to show the roses to the bishop, they discover that Our Lady's image has been miraculously imprinted on his tilma. This tilma has remained intact and is displayed even today in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.The author also avoids some of the mistakes and biases often present in renditions of the story. By explaining how the Bishop interrogated Juan Diego and carefully recorded all the details, the author makes it clear that this story is not a legend, but an actual occurence. (A note following the story also gives information about the miraculous condition of the tilma today - which is amazingly intact after more than 400 years.) The author also seems to have avoided any politically correct bias. I was particularly impressed with his portrayal of the bishop who was a very holy man with a genuine concern for all the people of Mexico.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

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