Review: Tiny Saints

Note: Christmas is just around the corner! This review will be the last one for this 2018 season of The Catholic Man ReviewsAs Christmas is around the corner, hopefully this review will serve as another idea for stocking stuffers. Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Vincent Pham (The Catholic Man’s Review)

Have you ever been to a Catholic Youth rally or conference and taken a walk through the different vendors, shops filled with all-things-Catholic for youth? Well I have been to several conferences and rallies and one thing the sells out quick are these small PVC characters called Tiny Saints. 

I had to find out what these charms were and finally, my sister Ivy and I are

reviewing them here just before the Christmas season. 

At first, I thought Tiny Saints were literally just Tiny Saints, a store selling Saint charms. But I have been proven wrong. They have rosaries, featuring the same artistic style as seen on the charms on the centerpiece, and on some, even the crucifix. These would make great gifts for the younger children whom you might want to encourage praying the rosary. A perfect gift not only for Christmas but also First Communions. 

You want something with more than one saint? Well besides their Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin charm, they also have a lanyard depicting many different Saints on the ribbon with the Tiny Saints logo on the reverse. It is a multi-functional lanyard with a lobster clip, detachable lower portion, and even a Velcro closure. 

New to Tiny Saints are Sidekicks. They are stuffed animals, but each one has a connection to a Saint. For example, the cat is associated with Saint Roch. The lamb (my favourite) is associated with St. Agnes. My mom questioned why Tiny Saints would provide stuffed animals in their store, but it made sense to her once I explained that many animals are associated with the Saints. Something I am questioning is if these are toys, collectables or devotional items? I guess this is subjective but nevertheless, these will be great reminders of the Saints. I hope to see many more animals released in the near future. 

How about the charms? How would I forget! They are more than just tiny harms to put on your keys, your backpack, your water bottle… Tiny Saints are honestly the cutest Catholic Saint “medals” available on the market right now. I am sure that you have those classic “Made in Italy” Saint medals lying around somewhere. I have a keyring just devoted to them. But honestly from what I have noticed, youth are not as attracted to them or want to carry them around like Tiny Saints. Tiny Saints serve as Saintly reminders for Catholic youth. They are simple, colourful and attractive representations of the Saints. Not only so, looking at the Saints, one is reminded of their baptismal vocations to become Saints. 

Tiny Saint has hundreds of different Saints to choose from, male saints, female saints, and most notably, a wide selection of Marian charms, depicting Mary from different apparitions. Also included are Blesseds and other candidates for sainthood, and even Pope Francis! 

Want to find a Saint for that athlete you have in mind and don’t know where to start? Tiny Saints also sorts their Saints out by patronages. 

I would like to make some remarks on Tiny Saints’ customer service. Tiny Saints have a small staff of only 4 people, but the work that they do is simply amazing. They are on time, customer-friendly and have great concern for their customers. They respond to their customers promptly and care for the people they serve.  

Ivy’s Review

I have loved Tiny Saints for a while now.  I would go to Catholic conferences and I would see them for sale and it would be impossible for me to not stop and take a look at them, and if you haven’t already you’ll see why. 

Tiny Saints’ main product is well – their many tiny saints.  They have an extensive selection of saints to choose from – around 130 if I am not mistaken.  You will probably find the saint you want if he/she isn’t too obscure.  Each one is made from the basic template but has identifying features added to them.  That may include their well-known symbols, like St. Joseph’s saw, prominent body features, such as St. Francis of Assisi’s hair, or clothing articles.  If you happen to forget, the saint’s name is on the back of the charm as well as the words, “Pray for us.” 

The charm comes in a small plastic “envelope” on a small piece of cardstock.  The cardstock has the Tiny Saints logo, and well as the saints’ name and a bit of background info.  I found this particularly useful when I bought my own Tiny Saint.  I wanted to buy one of Mother Mary, but those ones were sold out, so I just picked a random saint.  I ended up buying St. Agatha and it was the information on the packaging really helped me connect with her more.  The charm itself is a rubbery-plastic (can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly).  The charm is a single mass, so nothing was glued or painted on.  You won’t have scraped paint or missing eyeballs.  The words at the back do fade after a year or two of hanging out with your keys every day though. 

Tiny Saints also sell Sidekicks, which are stuffed animals that have a connection to a particular saint.  They are absolutely adorable.  They are made from a fine fleece.  They could easily be one of the softest plushies I’ve ever touched.  There is some background info on the significance of the animals on the back of the box (more like those typical shelf things that companies tie the toy’s legs and back to) it comes in.   You could seriously learn a thing or two.  The lanyard it comes also sold is pretty standard.  It’d be a nice addition if you wanted to get someone a gift basket of sorts, or if you were building a Tiny Saints collection. 

I really enjoy Tiny Saints’ products; I can’t wait to see what else they put out in the future. 

***

On The Catholic Man’s Scale 
Charms    ★★★★★     5/5
Rosary     
★★★★1/2     4.5/5
Lanyard   
★★★★1/2     4.5/5
Sidekicks   
★★★★★     5/5
Customer Service
★★★★★     5/5

What else can we say about Tiny Saints? Amazing products, amazing people! They even offer discount rate for fundraisers. Celebrating a parish or youth group milestone? Tiny Saints also offer custom services!
So? What are you waiting for?
Take a walk with the Saints on
www.tinysaints.com

Also, take time to read this article from Catholic Herald, about Tiny Saints

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Day 12: Open to God, Open to the World – Pope Francis

Open to God: Open to the World

A simple book, titled, Open to God, Open to the World, featuring conversations between Pope Francis and Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro was published in 2017 in Italian and finally translated this year (2018) into English by Bloomsbury Press. 

Often, when you see the name Pope Francis as the author of a book (I am not talking about an Encyclical or Apostolic Exhortation), such as this one, or The Name of God is Mercy, I’ve come to learn that most of the time, the Pope does not write the book himself but rather, it is consisted of a series of conversations with someone. In this case, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ,  editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica had a series of conversations with Pope Francis and has compiled those conversations in this book.

The preface has been written by Pope Francis himself in a very fraternal, friendly language. The preface, when read in comparison to other letters written to brother bishops, or in comparison to the preface mentioned in that of Stephen Walford’s book, Pope Francis, the Family, and Divorce: In Defence of Truth and Mercy . The preface in Walford’s book seemed more structured. That is probably because of the nature of this book, which is based upon conversations about a wide array of topics. 

“…sometimes I feel I have to say what I say to myself, and that’s important for me too.” 

Open to God Open to the World (2018), Preface, Pope Francis

Reading  Open to God, Open to the World, I have to note two important things that I find makes this book unique:

  • Scattered throughout each chapter, Fr. Spadaro makes his own commentary, giving the reader some context to the setting of the interview. As I read the commentaries provided by Spadaro, I could actually picture the setting very well. Spadaro makes mention of the art. In one interview, he describes the setting of the interview having a mosaic by Fr. Marko Rupnik. Being familiar with Rupnik’s art, I was able to imagine how the room looked like. Spadaro also makes mention of the date, the time, and the nature of the audience. Many of these conversations were done with audiences such as Jesuit communities during Papal visits and various religious groups. 
  • Pope Francis talks from the heart within these conversations. Like the tone of the preface, Pope Francis used a very fraternal tone, bearing very casual terms, easy to understand. The conversation tone here is different than that used in official Papal documents. There is that sense of fraternity I find when he talks to Jesuits because remember, Pope Francis himself is a Jesuit. He cracks a joke here and there when the time is appropriate. 

I don’t want to give too much away, in Open to God, Open to the World , but Pope Francis has been asked a wide span of various topics including Christian persecution, war, his vocation influences, refugees, references to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, effects of Vatican II… we can be here all night if I listed out every one of the topics. There are some themes that I see repeated so often throughout the Pontificate of Pope Francis, and once again, repeated in these conversations, for example, mercy, the length of a homily and a topic that I like, gossip as a form of terrorism. These are some of the many signature themes of the Pontificate of Pope Francis and  

Open to God, Open to the World gives one an inside look into the person of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, his young days, his novice years as a Jesuit, priesthood, episcopate, cardinalate, and now as Pope. Really inspiring and insightful and a very easy read. Reading 
Open to God, Open to the World just deepened my love for this great and humble Argentinian, Jesuit Pope. 

Purchase the book from Bloomsbury Press here

***

Thank you for following The Catholic Man’s 12 Days of Christmas campaign! But that is not the end of our reviews this year. There were some products that were to be featured here for this series. Unfortunately, due to the Canada Post strikes, these items are on delay. However, The Catholic Man will schedule such reviews before Christmas or for review in 2019.  

Day 11: National Geographic’s The Story of Christianity

christianity

It is now day 11 of 12 Days of Christmas Gifts with National Geographic’s The Story of Christianity.  This is a joint review, and I will be commenting on more or less the look and feel of the book.

The dust jacket is a nice thickness which is fairly standard and is glossy on both sides.  Underneath is the actual hardcover which is identical to the dust jacket on both sides of the book as well as the spine.  There is a general mustard yellow theme throughout the book, being most prevalent in the borders and end pages.  The end pages are well adhered without any bumps or wrinkles.  If you read my review for Who’s Who in the Bible (you can check that out here), you may remember that I mentioned a lone dove on the first page.  In this book, it is a painting of the early life of Jesus.  Like the dove, it seems randomly tossed into the mix.

The print out quality is excellent, as always with National Geographic; there aren’t any pixelated letters or pictures (but some fuzziness; I’ll get into that in just a bit).  The pages themselves are about as thick as regular printer paper but the have a glossy finish.  There is a table of contents and index which make this book much more user friendly, especially since such a thick book can be overwhelming.

This book has a mix of photos and paintings with a handful of maps, most of high quality. There were a few that looked like they had been zoomed in too much.  The visual aids are relevant to the provided information.  The division between chapters are clear as they are marked with a picture that takes up two full pages with the chapter number on the top of the right page (as opposed to the left).  The title of the chapter is on the next page along with the introduction, which has a bigger text size than the rest of the main text.  The font chosen fits the theme and feel of the book, and the main text isn’t too small for most people to read.  The chapter title is also at the top of every right page with the book title on the left page, but both are both are off centre, leaning more toward the centre, and frankly, I wish it was centred.

And I hereby pass on this review to The Catholic Man.

National Geographic once again gets a spotlight here as their book, The Story of Christianity, is reviewed here. Being a very good, reputable history and geography publishing corporation, this was not a surprise for me at all. Having read their magazines and some of their non-Christian titles, I was not at all disappointed with The Story of Christianity.

About the size of a standard coffee table book, this book is packed with beautiful high quality images in full colour on glossy paper and everything seems to come alive.

The content itself is worth mentioning. Indeed, the book has been laid out in chronological order starting with the time of Christ to the present day. I have found that it is more of an informative book. It is not a textbook, but it simply scratches the surface of the history of the 2000+ year old faith. It offers a tip of the iceberg of Christianity’s deep and rich history. Jean-Pierre Isbouts have published Christian history books that are easy for any mature reader to understand.

The layout is clean, and appealing to the eye. I like how throughout the book, there are images and explanations of artifacts of that particular time period. That brings the story alive seeing artifacts of a particular time period.

What puts me in amazement while reading the book was the long a rich history of Christianity. It made me reflect on the many events of the faith, some good while some, we have to admit were bad. I don’t think Isbouts tried to hide any bad within The Story of Christianity. We need to admit, yes, Christians have made mistakes, but we need to learn from those wrongdoings, amend, and move forward.

The Story of Christianity would make a great Christmas gift for anyone seeking an introduction to the deep history of Christianity.

That’s all for today’s review! If you would like to purchase your own copy of this book, it is available here.

Day 10: Daily Companion for Men

Want to start the new year on a good note? Do you need a book that has a short meditation and a prayer everyday? Well Catholic Book Publishing (CBP) Corp. got your back on this one. 

Published in 2017, the Daily Companion for men is a great resource for men to enrich their spiritual lives everyday either in the morning, evening or anytime during the day with a short meditation/reflection and a prayer. The way you use this resource is up to you. You may choose to use it as part of Morning Prayer, before a work shift, on the way home on public transit… The possibilities are endless. 

Daily Companion for Men will stop you from making excuses, “Oh, I don’t have time to pray or do spiritual reading”. Praying with this companion takes only about 3-5 minutes everyday. 

Have complaints about the size of prayer books? The Daily Companion for Men was published in a thin and masculine design, easy to carry around with you everywhere, in a purse, backpack, or bag. It is a good devotional tool to have beside your breviary. It is a very thin book, probably 1/5 of the thickness of the breviary, so weight is not a problem at all. The dimensions are 
4″ X 6 1/4″, a very good size for any man. . 

The cover is made of an imitation leather material. I like how the words have been embossed, and there is a textured embossing along the left of the cover (you can see it clearly in the picture), and it feels really good to feel with your hand. The textured part also runs along to the back side. The book also has a bookmark ribbon. 

A sample page

I scanned the page above for demonstration purposes (I apologize for the distortions as a result of scanning), but as you can see, the page layout is quite appealing and simple. The date is in the top right corner, a quote is given everyday with a drop-cap, a feature I love. That is all followed by a short reflection and a short prayer. That is it! Very simple but deepening prayer and reflection everyday. 

I like how the back has some prayers for men including: To you, O Blessed Joseph, Prayer to Discern God’s Plan Made Known in Everyday Life, Prayer of Father and Prayer for Friends… prayers that are helpful to have on hand. 

On The Catholic Man’s Scale     
★★★★★     5/5

A great companion to have on hand and follow through the year with. The price tag is not steep, only $8.95 USD! 

You think CBP left out women? No way! Check out the two products here:

Daily Companion for Men

Daily Companion for Women

Day 9: Lino Rulli’s Saint

Servant Books, an imprint of Franciscan Media, is the publisher of not only Lino Rulli’s book, Sinner: The Catholic Guy’s Funny, Feeble Attempts to Be a Faithful Catholic, reviewed at the beginning of this year on this blog, but also the publisher of its sequel, Saint: Why I Should Be Canonized Right Away. Now, don’t let the title fool you. Was Lino trying to elevate himself to canonization while still living? No, not at all. 

Saint was another funny, truthful and encouraging read by The Catholic Guy, Lino Rulli. Interestingly, I thought that as opposed to Sinner, which describes the many instances Lino tries to achieve Sainthood, Saint would describe the more “triumphant” times. However, I was wrong. As a sequel to Sinner, Lino continues on his path to achieve sanctity in Saint. However, he does so with the help of the saints.

Like Sinner, Lino can tell stories in such a way that every Catholic can connect with. He does not display himself as a perfect human being. He is simply a radio show host of The Catholic Guy Show on Sirius XM and strives to achieve sanctity like any sincere Catholic would do. 

***Spoiler alert*** Lino has a special devotion to St. John Paul II, having met him, and now he can say he has shaken hands with a Saint (the book was published in 2013, a year before the Canonization of John Paul II) and he expresses so within the book. I am a little jealous! 

I like how the book has been divided up into 4 sections based on the stages of Canonization: Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed, Saint. 

Reading the book prompted me to think of my vocation to be a Saint. At every Canonization, we are reminded of that vocation, but many times, within my human frailty, I tend to go on the wrong path sometimes. But reading Saint assured me once again there are people in the shoes as me. 

On The Catholic Man’s Scale★★★★★     5/5

A very connectable read for me, a worthy book on your Catholic bookshelf as an inspirational and encouraging read. A perfect gift this Christmas. Why not pair it with Saint

Purchase Paperback, Audiobook of Saint from Franciscan Media


“Sometimes you chase me, Lord. Sometimes I chase you. But the only time I’ll quit running, the only time I will finally feel at peace, will be when I’m at home with you: there in heaven. That’s when I’ll truly be called a saint.” -Lino Rulli

Day 8: MTF Handbook of Prayers Student Edition

The Catholic Man’s Review

The copy of Handbook of Prayers Student Edition, published by Midwest Theological Forum that I am reviewing today was bought at Steubenville Toronto Conference in 2017. I have never seen this edition of the Handbook of Prayers sold in Toronto. I have only seen the full, unabridged version of the book. Therefore, I bought immediately bought this edition when I saw it.

Handbook of Prayers Student Edition, even though it is an abridged version of the popular Handbook of Prayers, is a very handy prayerbook to slip into a backpack, briefcase or purse. I don’t think it is a necessarily a prayer book not only for students, but convenient for students to bring around with them with the many heavy textbooks.

I have reviewed two titles from Midwest Theological Forum, including the Manual of Prayer and the Daily Roman Missal. Midwest Theological Forum in my opinion, provides the best quality devotional tools for Catholics. Like those two books I have reviewed on here, the text have been printed in both black and red ink, a feature that I love (being a Liturgy fanatic).

The contents seem to be very similar to that of the Prayers and Devotions section of the Daily Roman Missal, containing the How to be a Better Catholic, Basic Prayers, Preparation for Mas, Prayers After Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Guide for a Good Confession, Devotions to the blessed Trinity, Devotions to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Devotions to the Holy Spirit, Devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Devotions to St. Joseph, Various Prayers, Prayers for the Dead, and even a section for Baptism of a Person in Danger of Death. The main difference between the Student Edition and the unabridged edition is probably the absence of the Order of Mass. Personally, I wish the Student Edition would have the people’s responses in there, without all the rubrics as in the Daily Roman Missal and the unabridged edition.

Another critique I have is the Stations of the Cross meditation used, not only in this edition, but also in the unabridged edition and also the Daily Roman Missal. I question who was the author of these specific reflections. I would prefer if they used the meditations of St. Alphonsus Liguori because that is well known. Besides, I like how the images of the stations are depicted, as well as in the Mysteries of the Rosary.

There are a couple blank pages at the back which I like, so I can perhaps jot down my own prayers and attach other prayer cards.

The cover seems to be made of a vinyl material with gold ink, I assume. Unfortunately, the first day I bought it, I used it during the Adoration session that night. My hands were sweaty. When I went back to my room, I saw that the spine where the text, “Handbook of Prayers” were stamped on were faded, which was disappointing. I didn’t ask for an exchange, knowing that this prayer book would be worn out, and it sure did, after so many conferences, retreats and camps since then. It has been my prayer companion along with my breviary. For that reason, to not misrepresent Midwest Theological Forum’s Handbook of Prayers, I did not take pictures.

Ivy Pham Review

I am a person who does not like structure when saying prayers.  I like a bit spontaneity when praying which is the complete opposite of my brother.  I think this will bring a different perspective to this review.

I’m sure many people would appreciate the size of it.  It’s about the size of my hand, and I have small hands.  It is also less than a centimetre thick. This would be perfect for those who like praying on their commute.

Don’t let its small size deceive you though.  It is jam packed with prayers of all kinds. It has the common ones most Catholics know, as well as various devotions some people may not have even heard of.  For that reason, I think it is incredibly versatile. It can also let people try something new if they find they can’t connect with God through their current prayer routine.

There is both a table of contents and index, so navigation of the book is pretty easy.  The text is easy to read, but I find it varies a bit too much. The division between different sections and devotions are clear though.  The printing of the text is high quality. I can’t say the same about printing quality if the few pictures in the book though. It looks like it was printed by a dot matrix printer (basically pictures look like they were stippled on).  Then again, the purpose of this book is not to look at the pictures.

I think the Handbook of Prayers for Students is a good option for anyone who want to discover more prayers and for various purposes.  It provides versatility and convenience and is a great starter for anyone who wants to strengthen their connection to God.

On The Catholic Man’s Scale

★★★★1/2           4.5/5

A beautiful, pocket sized prayer book for anywhere on the go, a perfect companion for one’s breviary and pilgrimage!  

You may purchase the Handbook of Prayer Student Edition here.

Day 7: WLP’s Roman Missal Personal Edition

 We’ve reviewed Catholic gifts for lay people, for kids, but nothing specifically for priests yet. Honestly, it is difficult finding gifts for priests but the World World Library Publications’ (WLP) Roman Missal Personal Edition would makes a perfect gift this Christmas.  

As a Catholic Liturgy Fanatic, one of the things that I like to review are missals. In my opinion, it may be the most portable missal dignified for the celebration of Mass, especially for travelling priests.

I am not a priest but being part of the Liturgy department of our parish, I am committed in making sure that parish Masses celebrated outside church are still celebrated in a reverent manner. I am the one who brings the Liturgical books and texts. 
In previous occasions, especially for Masses outat a campsite, I have brought the

OSV’s Daily Roman Missal (FYI, it is one of the most read reviews on this blog), I really like this missal, but it seems to be more of a missal for the people, a hand missal rather than for the service at the altar since it contains the readings, extra prayers… It is more of a devotional tool. WLP’s Personal Size Roman Missal in my opinion would be more appropriate at the altar, since it is strictly, the Roman Missal, and contains only the prayers the priest would use.

The cover is made of some imitation leather material, gold foil stamped with a chalice and the words“Roman Missal” on the spine. It is flexible, and not hardcover. I would have prefer a hard cover over a flexible cover, but agreeably, the hardcover would add more weight, making the book less portable in some sense.  

In this specific edition, the rubrics are printed in red ink, while the spoken texts are in black, the standard in most editions of the Roman Missal. But some study editions such as that of the Liturgical Press only provides black text, but red text was replaced with grey text.

The font size is readable, with the texts of the priest in approximately 11pt-12pt font, in bold. The rubrics are in red in approximate 10pt font. However, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and other notes often found in the beginning of Roman Missals were done in 8 pt font, a fairly small size, but doable. All this is printed on bible paper, instead of the regular weight paper or heavy paper, like in most Altar and Chapel Roman Missals.  

The music scattered throughout were neatly done and aren’t generic, since WLP is a music publishing company, and therefore, they did their own formatting of the sheet music.

A feature worth noting is the art used throughout the Roman Missal. When reviewing different editions of the Roman Missals, I notice that people place much importance on the art used. WLP has chosen art from the Vatican Apostolic Library, in the style often used on the covers of Vatican Mass booklets. Very beautiful choice.Unfortunately, the art has been reproduced in grey scale in the edition, but it has been reproduced in full colour in their Altar and Chapel editions. This edition would be beautiful if the art were printed in full colour too, but perhaps increased cost? Or would there any effects if a full colour image were reproduced on bible paper? Or why not print using black and red shades like in bibles by Catholic Book Publishing Corp?

A point I found disappointing were the use of drop-caps, in which, taking art from the Vatican Apostolic Library, could have taken many of drop-caps found in illuminated manuscripts. Instead, WLP chose to use a drop-cap in Algerian typeface.

Also, I must remark on the use of that grape clipart used very frequently throughout the missal. I asked myself, “Why do they keep using that grape vine?” There are many rich symbols of the Catholic faith such as the Chi Rho, the fish, angel, the chalice… countless to choose from, but WLP chose to use the same grape clipart throughout the missal.

Remarking on the ribbons, they are of good length. The only two critiques I have about it are(1) The number that are present are only 2. I wish there were 5-6 as in the Altar and Chapel editions. For those who wish more, I would recommend purchasing the ones used in the breviary. (2) The two colours chosen were interesting: black and red. I have seen red ribbons very often, but a black ribbon for a Roman Missal? I’ve not seen that before.

The size of the missal is very pleasing: 7.75”x5.25”x1.50” inches. A portable size, that could be put in carry-on backpack, inserted into a Mass kit, and perfect for outdoor Mass. This is probably one of the smallest sizes of the Roman Missal on market.The smallest I’ve found was Catholic Truth Society’s (CTS)Study Missal, which is 6.7”x4.7”, but it’s thickness was not specified on their site. I hope tocompare the two missals someday, but CTS will not provide me with a review copy, so I guess that will not happen anytime soon. CTS however, is not American. So WLP has published the smallest American Roman Missal.

On The CatholicMan’s Scale

★★★★ 4.5/5

Despite my critiques, WLP’s Roman Missal is a very good travel missal, perfect for clergy,liturgists and personal study. A very good Christmas gift for your hardworking pastor this Christmas!

You can purchase the missal here for a very reasonable price of $69.99 USD! 

Stay tuned for other reviews in this 12 Day of Christmas Gift series!

Day 6: National Geographic Kids’ Who’s Who in the Bible

HeaderHello everyone! This is Ivy returning with a review to kick off day 6 of 12 Days of Christmas gifts.  Be sure to check out previous posts to if you missed the last few days.

This time, I am presenting a gift for those who want to enrich a child’s knowledge of the Bible, particularly those in it.  National Geographic Kids’ Who’s Who in the Bible will do just that.

This book is very well organized.  Scanning through the table of contents, all the figures with at least slight prominence in the Bible are there and organized in the order they come in the Bible.  That way families can go through the Bible and use this book to further deepen everyone’s knowledge and understanding of what they are reading.  Though it is geared toward children, I think this is something families can enjoy together.  The colour scheme also helps organize the book.  The portion on those from the Old Testament has yellow tinted wood as the background while the New Testament portion has a blue green background which I would imagine is supposed to be water.  Between major sections there is are two pages of general background information which includes a timeline and little blurbs on major events or people.  The background of each of these pages has a background unique to the rest of the book.

The pages with details on specific people contains a summary of what happens to them as the focal point, but it also includes a few facts on their name.  There is also usually an extra fact about the person or the picture of them.  There is a glossary and index at the back which is useful, but I find the transition between St. Paul and the glossary to be rather abrupt.  I would have liked a bit of an outro; some sort of buffer between the two.

This book has a hard cover.  It resembles stained glass and in a few of the panels there are pictures of different people from the Bible.  I think it reflects the contents of the book well, but I don’t understand why there are two pictures of Moses.  I would have switched one of them out for someone else, considering how many there are to choose from.  The back has a handful of interesting facts which I think will capture the attention of many people.  The end pages are a vibrant shade of peacock blue which works well with the title and touches of blue on the cover.  They are well adhered to the cover.  I do find it strange that they are a slightly thinner than the regular pages; hardly noticeable.  Usually end pages are the same thickness as the other pages if not thicker.  The pages are heavy weight and glossy.  The print quality if excellent – the text is easy to read, and lines are crisp.  The first page has a little line drawing of a dove which feels a little out of place considering how full the other pages are.  The next page is when the book officially starts.  The is a painting which fills the span of two pages – a stark contrast to the previous page.  The picture is well chosen so that the title can still be clearly seen.  The set up of the remaining pages is consistent.  The pictures, as states on the back cover, are all classical and relevant to the information provided.  They are of various media which my inner artist appreciates.

Overall, I think National Geographic Kid’s Who’s Who in the Bible is a way of condensing the Bible from a different perspective.  It is definitely geared toward children as those who are older may already know the bulk of the given information, but it isn’t really a good option for very young children either, for they may not be able to grasp what they are reading.  It does have background knowledge which is not otherwise included in the Bible itself and the art is beautiful.  I give this book:

★★★1/2             3.5/5

3.5 stars.  I cannot say I would eagerly pay $14.99 US for it, especially since it is $19.99 CAD.  That being said, by no means is it a waste of money.  I think many will enjoy it.

You may purchase a copy here.

See you next time with 12 Days of Christmas Gifts!

Day 5: New American Bible Personal Size Gift Edition

Yesterday, my sister released a review of Catholic Book Publishing (CBP) Corp.’s new edition of New Testament and Psalms. Now, still sticking CBP, Day 5 of the 12 Days of Christmas is yet another CBP, but this time, a full Old and New Testament. Not only so, it is a full New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) complete with notes, maps… making it a travel sized study Bible. 

This is probably one of the more inexpensive personal size, Bibles after the paperback one. They also offer more deluxe versions, and even zippered versions. If you recall, I did review a zippered NABRE from Oxford University Press. I did like the zipper style at first but found it too much to open it Every time I needed a scriptural reference. I would offer some critiques of Oxford’s compact NABRE with zipper after doing this review. But that’s for another time. 

First of all the cover: Gold stamped text on burgundy imitation leather material – similar to what you’d find with the cover of the regular editions of Christian Prayer and Shorter Christian Prayer. The edges are not gold gilded, but rather stained in an orange colour. Gold gilded or stained? Personally, I prefer stained edges over gilded. Am I the only one, but when it comes to carrying around a book with gilded edges (e.g. Daily Roman Missal) , I always have to give extra care to it, ensuring that there will be no scratches and that is honestly stressing sometimes. With this Bible, I didn’t have to stress too much because there was no Golding and the Bible came with a sturdy cardboard box that I use whenever travelling with the Bible. Want to keep your Bible looking new? Then utilize the box. 

This Bible has many similarities to Oxford’s NABRE Compact edition with zipper such as full colour presentation pages and family record, Dei Verbum and Lectionary tables. However, unlike CBP, Oxford located the notes after the back of each book rather than directly at the bottom of the page. CBP also features maps, photographs and full colour pages throughout the Bible while Oxford does not have any of those in their compact edition. 
Now on to a more concerning topic, which is the font size. Honestly, CBP’s font choice and size seems easier to read than that of Oxford’s. The texts are more dense. However,  the notes are of smaller text and a little more difficult to read on a bus or subway ride but readable. 

What other features are there? I am going to extract them right from the front of the box:

  • Beautifully Illustrated Family Record Section
  • Over 60 Full-Color Illustrations
  • All Footnotes and Cross-References Keyed in Text
  • Over 30 Self-Explaining Maps in Context
  • Color Photographs of Lands of the Bible
  • The Bible and Catholic Life
  • Vatican II Constitution on Divine Revelation
  • Handy Bible Dictionary
  • Doctrinal Bible Index
  • Liturgical Index of Sunday Reading. 

Wow! What a list of features! Very self explanatory. Cool thing is, they all fit in a fairly small sized book, sized 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″. 

Any features I would add? I have used CBP’s Bible for the Catholic Bible in 365 Days challenge and honestly, I have used it more than I have used the Catholic Study Bible due to its portability and size since I have been on the move more often these months and often read the Bible on public transit and it’s simply not feasible to carry around the Catholic Study Bible everywhere. But, I have some suggestions perhaps CBP would like to add or amend to this Bible:

  • Like Oxford’s compact edition Bible, have three to four pages of common Catholic prayers. That would be very helpful for Catholics on the move. 
  • The family record pages are printed on glossy paper. While this brings out the colour of the decoration, it is a little difficult to write on with ballpoint pens. I would prefer a matte, regular paper for the family record pages.
  • Is it possible to add a pocket to the back? I like to add Holy Cards to my Bible, but they tend to fall out and a pocket at the back would be great! 
  • CBP should also consider making a set of mini-Bible tabs as a separate accessory for their Bibles. Mini-tabs for a personal size Bible while larger sized for the larger editions.

On The Catholic Man’s scale:

★★★★★ 5/5

Great Bible, suitable for any Catholic and very affordable! 

You may purchase the Bible here: https://catholicbookpublishing.com/product/7#&gid=1&pid=1

This is not the last of publications from CBP. More to come from them, since I love their publications and beautiful books and make perfect Catholic gifts. So stay tuned for the next 7 Days of Christmas Gifts! 

Day 4: Catholic Book Publishing’s New Testament & Psalms

It seems I am back sooner than I thought; it is day 4 of 12 Days of Christmas Gifts.  Today I am reviewing Catholic Book Publishing Corp.’s latest Bible.  It is the Saint Joseph Edition, and includes the New Testament and Psalms with illustrations.  This Bible was only published this year (2018), so this is its first Christmas on the market. 

Although it says New Testament and Psalms on the cover, it also includes a list of Jesus’ miracles and parables.  For those who have trouble following understanding what they read in the Bible, the included footnotes and cross references may come in handy.  The footnotes are clear and to the point.  

Contents

Upon opening this Bible, I noticed it opens and closes well.  The pages don’t threaten to fall out.  The spine is flexible enough to allow you to open the Bible so that it lays flat if you hold it down.  The text is a good size for a pocket Bible.  The print quality is great; the letters aren’t fuzzy and the thickness of letters are consistent, so random parts don’t look oddly bold and sections don’t look like they were printed twice over each other.  The notes can be a bit overwhelming for some since the letters in that part of the text is smaller, but also thicker, so I find things look a little too cozy towards the bottom of the page.  Jesus’ words are printed in red, which is an interesting feature.  The text stating when a new chapter begins makes the divisions clear.  I know many people get lost in the sea of text, so that will be be helpful for some.  Generally, when there is a division or transition of some sort, the text is bold or made different altogether.  The top of the pages are set kind of like a dictionary.  The outer corners is the book, chapter and verse, the middle is the page number and the inner corners are the last stories on each page.  

The illustrations are quite nice.  They are drawn in shades of black, white and red, which is a different take on the usual full colour images.  I think that is a nice way to set this Bible apart from others.  The colour scheme of the illustrations ties in nicely with the rest of the Bible.  The are well spaced throughout the New Testament portion.  

Sample page with illustration

The look and feel of the Bible is also really nice.  The cover is flexible and the leather doesn’t feel like it will crack at any moment.  The pattern isn’t overpowering and is consistent throughout the portion in is placed.  The edge where it stops is a clean line.  The lettering is cut into the cover so there is no fading, with the exception of the “Saint Joseph Edition”.  The letters are cut with clean edges.  Most of the gold detailing is placed on parts that are cut into the cover so most of it it there to stay.  The colour scheme is nice, consistent with its contents, and the colours don’t clash.  The end pages sport the same tone of red but in varying shades.  They are binded well to the the cover.  The gilding along the side of the pages is well done and a nice shade.  I think most of us have opened up books with gilded edges only to see a bald patch in the gilding and gold shimmers all over our thumbs after a while.  With this Bible the transfer is minimal.  The ribbon is a bit wrinkly but that should even out with use, and the end is even melted for you.  No fraying! 

If I were to make changes, I would centre the elements of the cover a bit better.  Everything is slightly shifted to the left, but it is not noticeable.  The gold detailing on the cross on the cover is also a little off so I would try to find a way to centre it a little better.  Finally, I would put a few more books in or make it part of a set with another Bible, containing whatever is missing in this one.  They have the formatting and design down pat; why not expand on that?  Then it could cater to a larger audience.  On a scale of one to five I give this Bible:  

★★★★1/2 4.5 stars

4.5 stars.  I think it is worth the $17.95 price tag.  You can purchase your own copy here

I hope to see you the next time I write a review; stay tuned for the rest of this series!