Not the best introduction to either Merton or the monastic life.




Readers are given a cursory look at an important Roman Catholic priest, monk, and writer whose life was governed by prayer, a love of nature, and strong beliefs in peace and nonviolence.

The abecedary format is a weakness. While it presents such words as “cowl,” “hermitage,” “monastery,” “Trappist,” and “vespers,” all important to understanding Merton’s life, other word choices seem arbitrary, some letters have multiple words, and a few are not illustrated at all (N, O, and P have six words among them but not one picture). C is for both “cowl” and “community,” one emphasizing solitude, the other togetherness. The book also suffers from the absence of a timeline. An authors’ note states this is not a biography, but the details that are presented will confuse: E is for England, where Merton moved from France when he was 13. But F is for France, where Merton was born; he moved to the United States with his family before he was 2. Similarly, the entry for “hermitage” states that Merton was a hermit in his last three years of life. But Merton visited the Dalai Lama (D) shortly before Merton died in Thailand. The illustrations are enclosed in stained glass–like frames, each letter in a corner, and the backgrounds are segmented as if they were sections of windows. The palette is rather muted.

Not the best introduction to either Merton or the monastic life. (biographical note, note to parents and teachers, resources) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61261-847-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paraclete Press

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2017

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Jesus pops up.

“It had been three days since Jesus died on a cross, and his friends were sad.” So Traini (The Life of Martin Luther, 2017) opens his ingenuously retold version of the first Easter. Beginning with two unnamed women clambering down a rocky hill to the graveyard, each of the seven tableaux features human figures with oversized eyes, light brown skin, and solemn or awed expressions posing in a sparsely decorated setting. The women hurry off at the behest of the angel lounging casually in a tomb bedecked with large crystals and fossil seashells to inform the “other disciples” of what’s happened. Along the way the women meet Jesus himself (“Greetings, my friends!”), who goes on to urge disciples “hiding inside a locked room” to touch his discreetly wounded hands. He later shares breakfast (“fish, of course!”) with Peter and others, then ascends from a mountaintop to heaven. Though the 3-D art and the flashes of irreverence set this sketchy rendition of the story apart from more conventional versions, the significance of the event never really comes clear…nor can it match for depth of feeling the stately likes of Jan Pienkowski’s Easter (1983). In the final scene Pentecostal flames appear over the heads of the disciples, leaving them endowed with the gift of tongues and eager to spread the “good news about Jesus!”

Skip. (Pop-up picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5064-3340-0

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Sparkhouse

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

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This introduction to the Christian Bible uses a simple format that is accessible both to younger children and new readers. Forty Bible stories are retold with just a few sentences for each story or incident, sometimes giving just an introductory glimpse of a larger story and sometimes breaking one story into several spreads. The text is set in large type on the left-hand pages against an attractive corresponding illustration on the right-hand pages. The paintings used for the illustrations use a variety of perspectives and a palette of deep shades that suggests an ancient setting. The clear and simple format provides an accessible introduction to major stories and characters in the Bible, which is often difficult for parents and Sunday school teachers to find in one package. Bibliographical references and an index are included on the final page. A related volume by the same author, Animals of the Bible for Young Children, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty (ISBN: 978-0-8028-5376-9), uses an identical format to summarize stories from the Bible from a different perspective, focusing on animals as the unifying principle. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5383-7

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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