Monday, October 5, 2015

H is for Holy and A Gift for Matthew (Ancient Faith Publishing)

One of the greatest joys about being a book reviewer is the children's books that I receive to review. For one, it is nice to have a short book to read amidst all the long ones, but more importantly it is nice to share something I love with my son. If you want your children to love reading, you have to start with them early and place an emphasis on it is important. You not only have to read to them, but they should see you reading as well. So this week, I am going to be reviewing only children's books. Today. I am going to share two selections from my favorite Orthodox publisher, Ancient Faith Publishing.

H is for Holy is a hardcover book that teaches children their alphabet by relating letters to facets of Orthodox Christianity. It isn't a new concept, as I have reviewed a Catholic/Christian one before, but I was intrigued to read through it and see how it compared. The book starts out familiar enough with A for Altar, B for Bread, and C for Cross, but the true test of books like this is what they do with the tough letters. Rightfully so, I is Icon and O is Oil. Catholics don't really think about those two things much, as they receive greater attention in the East, so I liked that! Q is Quiet; X is ICXC; and Z is good ole Zacchaeus (as if there was any doubt). On each page is a further description of each letter's representation, and at the end is the numbers one through ten with Orthodox ways to learn your numbers. The illustrations were done in a watercolor format and helped drive home the alphabet concept. Solid book.

A Gift for Matthew tells the story of a boy who goes to visit Brother Justin in a monastery. Brother Justin had a special gift. He was an iconographer. Brother Justin is going to teach Matthew how icons are made. They begin with a prayer before starting. Then, he showed him how a sketch on paper gets transferred to an icon board. The board was slowly engraved with Brother Justin praying the Jesus Prayer continuously. In addition to learning this, Matthew learned where the colors (pigment) came from and what egg tempera is used for. At the end of the book is a the complete text of the Iconographer's Prayer, which I found very beautiful to read. I found this book a joy to read and I feel like adults can learn as much as children when reading this book. The book did a nice job emphasizing that iconography is more than just art. It is prayer. If you are looking for an approachable way to teach your children about icons and how they are made, I highly recommend this book!

These books were provided to me for free by Ancient Faith Publishing in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!