Biographies

1000 Years of Catholic Scientists

Author(s): 
Jane Meyerhofer
Copyright: 
2006
Publisher: 
Ye Hedge School
Binding: 
Stapled Softcover
Number of pages: 
88 pages
Review: 

Nearly 200 Catholic scientists from the past thousand years are overviewed by means of brief biographies, with dates and places where each scientist lived and worked. The scientists are listed in chronological order with an alphabetical index in back. The author's primary source of information is the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913 (which can be found online at http://www.newadvent.org). Her main purposes in working on this project are "to show students that Catholics have always been scientists" and "that there is nothing incompatible between science and the Catholic faith."

I have received QUITE a few e-mails from Catholic homeschoolers (particularly ones using Protestant science texts - which tend to highlight the religious beliefs of Protestant scientists) who want to know how to find out which scientists were Catholic. This booklet is a good place to start. Even though the Catholic Encyclopedia is available free online, this booklet is a simple and easy way of finding what you're looking for (particularly because the Catholic Encyclopedia online doesn't yet have a search feature).

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1-31-2008
Reviewed by: 

A Life of Our Lord for Children

Author(s): 
Marigold Hunt
Illustrator(s): 
Ted Schluenderfritz
ISBN: 
1 928 832 644
Copyright: 
2003
Publisher: 
Sophia Institute Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
189 pages
Review: 

Sophia Institute Press has reprinted another gem! In an easy conversational manner, Marigold Hunt tells the story of the Life of Christ. She begins by spending one chapter on the time before Christ, the promise, and the prophets. Then she tells of his birth and young life, his preaching and miracles, and his death and resurrection. The last chapter, His Kingdom is the Church, tells of the Pentecost.

The pictures make this edition really special. There are thirty, done in an almost icon-like style. I have two favorites. The first is of the storm on the Sea of Galilee while Jesus sleeps and the apostles panic. The view is from above. The second is a picture that has a small drawing of each apostle with some symbol to represent who he is. The spot for Judas is darkened. My children had a fun time deciding the name of each apostle based on the symbols. Another interesting detail is that the artist is a homeschooling dad!

When I first saw the book, I wondered at the need of it. If you wanted your children to know the story of Christ, I thought, why not read the Bible. But as I read it I saw that the way Mrs. Hunt tells the story makes a big difference. She claims that she is not telling everything that is in the bible, but a little, so that the children understand and can someday read the bible themselves. It is almost like a conversation she is having, with stops for explaining things, just as I would tell my children about something. For example when she talks about the coming of the Messiah, she explains why He is called the Messiah and the Christ and the King. I thought the storytelling fashion, the second person manner of writing, must be what it was like in the early days of the Church when the story of Christ passed to people by word of mouth, or like in later ages when not everyone read, but yet knew the story of Christ. For this reason I think it would make a great read aloud.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

Copyrights 1939/2003

Review Date: 
8-10-04
Reviewed by: 

A Life With Karol,

My Forty-Year Friendship with the Man Who Became Pope
Author(s): 
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz
Gian Franco Svidercoschi
Translator(s): 
Adrian J. Walker
Copyright: 
2007
Publisher: 
Doubleday
Binding: 
Glued Hardcover
Number of pages: 
260 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Absolutely fascinating! A Life with Karol offers an intimate portrait of Pope John Paul II.

Written by his personal secretary of 40 years, Cardinal Dziwisz, we are privileged to partake of an up close and personal view of Pope John Paul II and we are not disappointed.

Together with Gian Franco Svidercoschi, they discuss the life and times of Pope John Paul II, beginning with the first time the Cardinal met Pope John Paul II until his death. Gian Franco Svidercoschi asks provocative questions, sets the scene, or provides political commentary, while Cardinal Dziwisz shares anecdotal information. Together the conversation flows back and forth.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that Pope John Paul II's life is absolutely riveting, because of the extraordinary feats he accomplished during his lifetime. In looking back at Pope John Paul II's years as a young archbishop of Krakow, we feel the tension mount as he challenges the authority of the Polish communist government with his desire to build the church at Nowa Huta. We follow him across the world as he reaches out to many countries with his many missions of love. We experience perhaps the biggest surprise and disappointment of his life as he meets with his attempted assassin, Ali Agca. These are just a few of the many topics touched on.

More than a biography of what he accomplished, we also witness his hopes and dreams, the reasons why he did the things he did. We also witness his disappointments and confusion that people would misunderstand his purposes.

Through it all, we are inspired to follow his heroic example of love and to also fearlessly proclaim the truth of Christ's transforming love. Through his lived example of daring love, Pope John Paul II gives the world a blueprint of how to address the many controversial topics of contemporary society.

Take the time to read a story of inspiration and love, the life of Pope John Paul II. A Life with Karol will allow you to see a new and intimate side of Pope John Paul II. It may even inspire you to enthusiastically follow his example and set the world on fire with the love of Christ.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
8-22-2008
Reviewed by: 

A Man for All Seasons

Book cover: 'A Man for All Seasons'
Copyright: 
1966
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

This is a VERY well-done rendition of the story of St. Thomas More. Thomas More was a well-respected lawyer who was named Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII. He is a model statesman - modest, intelligent, and principled. He was martyred for not condoning the actions of the King toward the Catholic Church and his first wife. (Quite a refreshing contrast to modern-day politics!) I would suggest this for high school students as younger students (unless they are familiar with the story and accustomed to somewhat complex dialogue) may find it "boring". We were very pleased to find this movie at our local library. Available on VHS or DVD.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Abigail and the Widow Mary

Book cover: 'Abigail and the Widow Mary'
Author(s): 
Noel Trimming
Copyright: 
1996
Publisher: 
The Pentland Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
62 pages
Review: 

Mr. Trimming has created several very engaging stories about some of Jesus' most beloved miracles told from the point of view of children. These stories fall into the category of historical fiction. In other words, they are based on real events, but include some fictitious characters and dialogue. This technique allows us to see the story from a different point of view (in these stories, it is from a child's point of view) and more fully understand the story because of historical details such as customs and ettiquette of the day. The author develops these stories in such a way that children more fully understand the significance and joy of these miracles. For example, the first story is of the miracle of the Wedding at Cana, when Jesus turned the water into wine. This is told from the viewpoint of Abigail, the young sister of the bride. The story relates how important certain customs related to the wedding ceremony are and how nervous everyone is about the wine being in short supply. We see that running out of wine during the celebration would be a devastating blow to the family and the bridal couple and how even young Abigail fearfully awaits what will happen. After understanding this background, how much more joyous, particularly to the young reader, is it when they see how Jesus (with some encouragement from his mother - "the Widow Mary") comes to their aid? I believe these kind of stories are an excellent way of portraying to children how great Jesus' love is for us.

My children were familiar enough with these stories from the Bible that they delighted in figuring out which story was being told (the background development gives them a little chance for guessing). So enjoyable was this story, in fact, that I was coerced by my daughter into reading the entire book in one sitting. I have to admit that I found the task not at all unpleasant.

In order to give you a sampling of the book, the story of Reuben's Basket, which is about the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, may be read online. Note: A character in one of the stories makes a joke that some may find offensive. Keeping in mind that the author is British (and some of the words involved in the joke have different connotations to British than to Americans); I don't think the joke is a real problem, but you can decide for yourself as the joke in question is included in the chapter that you can read on their website listed above.

Perspective: 
Catholic

Abraham Lincoln

Book cover: 'Abraham Lincoln'
Author(s): 
Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire
Copyright: 
1939
Publisher: 
Dell Publishers
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
56 pages
Subject(s): 
Setting: 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Our family has almost worn out our copy of this well-loved book. Abraham Lincoln the boy comes alive in the story and illustrations. We see him grow to a young man and take several adventurous trips "down river" and learn that a fortune-teller from New Orleans predicted that he would be president some day. The authors indicate his empathy for the slaves during this trip and show how his honesty and integrity eventually win the respect of many, although they don't make for an easy life. The book includes information and anecdotes from the Civil War, but avoids the topic of his assassination.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Adventures of Saint Paul

Author(s): 
Oldrich Selucky
Illustrator(s): 
Zdenka Krejcova
Translator(s): 
Marianne Lorraine Trouve, FSP
Copyright: 
2008
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
86 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

In this house, all I have to do is leave out a book with a bright, colorful, intriguing cover like Adventures of Saint Paul and someone will ask, "Hey, Mom, can I read this book?"

For the emerging reader, who has a few words under his or her belt, Adventures of Saint Paul relates the fascinating story of St. Paul on a simple level without the dumbed down language of the early reader.

Meeting children where they are, the story opens with St. Paul as a young boy, who would rather ask the Rabbi questions than make tents with his father. But he doesn't remain a boy for long.

The story moves quickly through his adventurous life as he travels extensively from one town to the next with his many different companions: Luke, Timothy,Barnabas, etc.

The story focuses on his untiring love in bringing the message of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible under the most trying of circumstances. The story paints an accurate picture of how some Christians were wary of him and others, who were not Christian, were not sure about this man, Jesus, even to the point of driving Paul out of their town.

Keeping in mind the young reader, the story omits the gruesome details of his persecuting Christians, his sufferings, and his death.

Adventures of Saint Paul offers a lighthearted look at Saint Paul for the younger child. With a pleasant balance of text and dialogue, it would also make an ideal read aloud as the engaging story moves quickly along with colorful, lively pictures.

There is a pronunciation guide and a prayer to St. Paul at the back of the book.

Touching on the highlights of his life, this would make a first-rate introduction to the life of St. Paul for young children, especially during this year dedicated by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to St. Paul.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Additional notes: 

For the learning reader, you will want to assist the child with some of the words they will struggle with like Macedonia and synagogue.

Review Date: 
9-13-2008
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: 

Blessed Miguel Pro

20th Century Martyr
Book cover: 'Blessed Miguel Pro: 20th Century Martyr'
Author(s): 
Ann Ball
Copyright: 
1996
Publisher: 
TAN Books
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
117 pages
Subject(s): 
Review: 

Miguel Pro (1891-1927) was a young priest in Mexico during the persecution of the Church in the 1920s. He used interesting disguises to slip past authorities in order to celebrate Mass in secret and otherwise minister to his people. He fearlessly continued such dangerous missions despite health problems and eventually was arrested and martyred for his faith.The reader will learn a lot about the politics, culture and religion of his time. Also included in the book are a number of black and white photos of Blessed Miguel Pro - including several of him in disguise and those taken at his execution and his funeral. The government allowed photographers to be present at the execution in order to make an example of the martyr, but later tried to prevent their release. The appendix includes prayers and poems written by Blessed Miguel Pro, a novena and chaplet composed in his honor, and ideas for a celebration for his Feast Day, November 23.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Missionary of Charity

Book cover: 'Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Missionary of Charity'
Author(s): 
Mary Kathleen Glavich, S.N.D.
Publisher: 
Pauline Books and Media
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
131 pages
Subject(s): 
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is the story of her life simply told for children. Although it is a children's book, it covers enough material for even an adult to have a greater appreciation of her life. Written as a short chapter book with a few illustrations sprinkled throughout the book, it begins with her childhood in Albania and follows her decision to become a missionary and join the Loreto sisters, and continues after her dramatic step to serve the poorest of the poor without any financial backer. This is a true lesson in trusting in God's Divine Providence.

This book includes all the elements of a good story: an exciting plot, wonderful hero, and well written. Best of all, the story is true. Interwoven throughout the story are quotes from Mother Teresa. There is also a prayer to Mother Teresa and a glossary. (Intermediate reading level - recommended for ages 9-12).

Review Date: 
4-2-04
Reviewed by: 

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