The Saving Name of God the Son

The Saving Name of God the Son


I’ve written before about how the girls and I have enjoyed A Picnic with Monet and other books in the Mini Masters series of board books based on Impressionist artists. And I have been saying for a long time that some Catholic publisher needs to create a comparable series of board books with fine religious art and high quality text. We have such a treasury of great religious art at our disposal—2000 years worth of sublime masterpieces—it is almost a crime that all the available Catholic board books use cartoons or mediocre art.

Well, at last, my pleas have been heard. Bethlehem Books has a new series, the Teaching the Language of the Faith Series, edited by Jean Anne Sharpe that is exactly what I have been searching for. In fact, it’s even better than my wildest dreams.

Start with art by one of my favorite artists, Fra Angelico. I’ve been in love with his work since I visited the monastery of San Marco in Florence. Eleven gorgeous paintings. This would have been enough.

To this art add beautiful text that recounts the story of salvation history using Biblical language and incorporates the various names of the Second person of the Holy Trinity.

In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD—who was with God and who was God—became flesh. . .

This text, too, would have been enough. My absolute favorite passage is the beginning of the Gospel of John. But there is more and more and more.

He is the BELOVED SON, calling the Bride to the Marriage Supper of the LAMB; giving her the most precious gift, his Body and Blood, sacrificed . . . on the wood of the cross: Our LORD JESUS CHRIST!

This is not watered down language. This is the greatest poetry our faith has to offer. Truly this book aims high, teaching even the youngest children with the real language of our faith.

And yes, with this art and this language, this book works well for toddlers. Nineteen-month old Sophie grabbed it as soon as I took it from the box. I read it to her a couple of times and then she spent the rest of the evening carrying it around. She plopped down on the kitchen floor as I cooked dinner and flipped through the pages, completely absorbed by the pictures. She propped it on the easel and used it as a song book, singing “Amen.”

Best of all, because it’s a sturdy board book, it will take quite a beating from this girl we affectionately call destruta-baby, who loves to rip pages and pull books apart.

But it isn’t exclusively for toddlers. Because it is not watered down pap; but rich, nourishing food, I can see this book working equally for older children and even for teenagers and adults. In fact, the series editors clearly have an older audience in mind when they compiled the art and text references pages. These final two pages go beyond the standard list of copyright information for the images and text. They include the title of each piece, the name of the artist, the location (and, for the murals, the dimensions). Eg: “NATIVITY; Fra Angelico (1387-1455). From the doors of the Silver Cabinet. Ca 1450. Location Museo di S.Marco, Florence, Italy.” More, the book includes scripture and Catechism references: “SEE: Luke 2:1-20 and The Catechism of the Catholic Church: 525; 1159.” One could conduct both an art history lesson and a Bible study lesson using this book as a jumping off point. Or you can use it for prayer, as a guide for meditation.

Truly this is the kind of book I want to be reading with my children, one that will nourish their faith whatever their age. One that will nourish my own faith. This is one book I look forward to reading over and over and over again. (And you know that with a 19 month old I will be putting that claim to the test!)

I can’t wait for the release of the next books in the series and I hope that Bethlehem Books will follow up with further series as well.

This would make a perfect socking stuffer. Give one to every family you know. Even if they don’t have a toddler.

Thanks to Alicia at Love 2 Learn for tipping me off about this beautiful book. (If you don’t follow Love 2 Learn, you really should. It’s a great resource for reviews of Catholic educational materials. You can subscribe to their RSS feed and be notified any time a new review is posted.)

If you find my book reviews helpful and want to give back a little, you can always click through the above link to Amazon, I’ll get a small little percentage from Amazon of whatever you spend. I use any proceeds to buy more books for Bella and Sophie, which I will review here so really you’ll gain too because my book reviews are sorely limited by my small book budget.

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