Book Review: Simon Godsell’s “Everything”

This review sent me down memory lane to childhood. I read a lot of picture books back then so it felt like I was reconnecting with a part of myself I had forgotten about. Today’s review is of Simon Godsell’s “Everything” which you may have correctly guessed is a children’s picture book. I don’t think we’ve ever reviewed anything quite like this.

This book is a very simple read despite there being quite a few pages for a children’s book (just under 50 pages). That being said, some of the words used are longer, so I would recommend this book for children that have been reading for a while. I think children that have only started learning to read will struggle a bit, so perhaps this is a book best read with an adult at least the first time around. The book conveys the central theme of how everything is a result of God’s work in a way that I think children can grasp, so I think the book is also a good option for people that wish to read aloud to children. In this way this book can also be suitable for children that can understand English but not yet read. There are also mentions of dinosaurs and outer space which are topics that often capture the imagination and interest of children. For this reason, “Everything” a nice way to connect what a child is interested in to something important that they may not otherwise think much of.

This book reads like poetry to me. There is some rhyming, juxtaposition and repetition of both sounds and whole words. The poetic aspect of the way the book was written makes it really satisfying for me to read. This use of literary devices prevents the book from being a dry read, particularly because there really is no plot to this book.

I find the illustrations really cute and appropriate for a children’s book. The art style is very simple without taking away from what is being depicted; I don’t find myself doing any guessing as to what it is I am looking at. I also think the simplicity of the style creates a sense of approachability for children. My inner amateur artist also thinks that this more (for lack of better word) abstract style can help expose children to art that is not classical/realist art. This is important to me – as beautiful classical/realist art is, there is not one “right” kind of art and I think we risk stifling children’s creativity by limiting the kind of art they see.

Overall, I would recommend Godsell’s “Everything” if you saw a sneak peak of it, are curious, and like the message behind the book. If you would like to purchase your own copy you can do so here.

Learn more about Simon Godsell’s work here.

Some words from The Catholic Man (updated May 15, 2022): Thanks, Ivy, for delivering a review that considered a number of unique aspects of this beautiful children’s book by Simon Godsell. Before reading the description of the book, I realized the book was inspired by the hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander, which speaks to the beauty and diversity of God’s creation. I remember being taught the hymn in music class in elementary school. The beauty of God’s creation and appreciation for this gift in this “common home” is what Pope Francis emphasizes in Laudato Si’. Everything by Godsell is a step to introduce children to the message of Laudato Si’, I think. This is an approachable, very child-friendly text and illustration that allows children to be aware of the work of God the Creator. Thank you, Mr. Godsell for allowing my sister and I opportunity to review this beautiful children’s book of yours.

To close, presenting a rendition of All Things Bright and Beautiful:

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews was provided a review copy of “Everything” to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Simon Godsell for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future reviews. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the title.

Day 11: Watts & Co. Mantilla

We are approaching the last couple days of the 12 Days of Christmas series! Today we a have a review for something we have never reviewed before: a mantilla. This is a gift catered to all the ladies in your life.

Packaging for the Watts & Co. mantilla is A+. It comes in a nice black gift box with the company logo on the lid. Inside, the mantilla sits on a black velvety sponge cushion. A little card accompanies the mantilla with a thank you and a bit of info on the mantilla. It all looks very sleek; very much my aesthetic.

The mantilla is triangular, and is folded in triangles (I don’t know what it is but I find it so satisfying that they chose to fold it the way they did instead of trying to make it into a rectangle). I think perhaps the box is a little bigger than it needs to be, but it doesn’t take away from anything. The card in the box as well as the website say that the mantilla is made of ‘Leavers’ lace. I’m no lace expert, so I did a bit or research. ‘Leavers’ lace is among the most sought after types of lace, as it is very feminine and delicate. These qualities hold true for the mantilla. I’ve included some pictures of my mom (thanks mom!) with the mantilla on so you can get a feel for how it drapes.

I think the lace design is beautiful, and very soft to the touch. There are 3 colours offered on the website, each with a different lace design which I find interesting. While the designs are different, I find them all equally beautiful and very cohesive together. I suspect the pattern was made specifically for the production of these mantillas as the pattern follows the edge of the mantilla. One thing that I think can be improved is I couldn’t find information on what the material the fibers are; that would have been especially helpful in making a purchase decision and deciding on how to best care for it.

This is an item to be babied. The edges of the mantilla are raw, so the lace will fray if not handled with care. The lace itself is also very thin which adds to the delicate aspect, but it would likely tear or the pattern would be ruined if the mantilla snagged on something. The card also recommends that the mantilla be dry cleaned. In the very least, this is definitely not something I would put in a laundry machine.

Because this mantilla requires so much care and is more on the pricier end, I would recommend purchasing this for someone who is truly serious about using mantillas and is willing to go the extra mile to care for a particularly nice one. This is perhaps a good fit for someone who had been using a mantilla for some time and is looking for a beautiful, delicate one.

Watts and Co. has had a tradition of producing beautiful liturgical items, both the Paschal Stylus and this mantilla are fine examples of their elevation of beauty in the liturgical context. We hope to feature more of their work on our blog in the future.

You can check out the mantilla on their website here.

And that concludes day 10! I hope you’re looking forward to seeing us for the last day!

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews was provided a sample of this mantilla for an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Watts & Co. for the opportunity for us to review model on our blog and looks forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the product.

Day 8: Metal Earth Notre Dame DIY model

It is day 8 of the 12 Days of Christmas Gifts, and I am reviewing the DIY model of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France by Metal Earth. As you may know, the Cathedral is under extensive renovation and rebuilding after its 2019 fire. It nevertheless is a jewel of Gothic architecture in France, but more importantly for Catholics, it is a house of worship.

I compared the completed model to some photos of the cathedral and I think this is a fairly accurate model of it; there are no obvious differences (other than the size of course). The only difference I notice is that the circular windows are simplified on the model, but not so much so that is is jarring, and the overall style is still maintained. I can’t speak for how well it is scaled to the actual cathedral unfortunately; I can only say I think it appears well proportioned. The level of detail on this is great. There aren’t any windows or doors missing as far as I can tell. There are even bricks and roofing etched on to the metal that I think really makes it feel like a palm sized replica. There are varying levels of depth to the model as some pieces are assembled further in or even behind other pieces which I really like; they really did mean 3-D when they said it is a 3-D model.

The model claims to be made of high quality steel which I would agree with although I am not an expert. The thickness seems even throughout the sheet save for the etching, and it acquired minimal scratch marks in the construction process. Therefore, much care would need to be taken during the construction of this model. We’ve had this model on display for at least half of the year now, and it still looks the way it does when we first assembled it, but we do keep it at room temperature in a fairly dry place and don’t live in a high humidity climate. One extra detail I would like to mention is that there isn’t much unused space on the metal sheets, which means less waste.

Metal Earth has different models with different levels of difficulty and the model of Norte-Dame is listed as “Challenging”. Indeed it is challenging. Part of that is because the pieces are so small; the thin pillars surrounding the cathedral are just over one millimeter in width. Additionally, the metal it not very thick, especially since it has been scored to make it easier to fold. I don’t think changing the thickness would be an improvement because it would break too easily if it was any thinner but too hard to fold if it were thicker. Some of the pieces on our model turned out a little warped because of little mistakes we make and couldn’t really fix. There are also little tabs on the the edge of many pieces that are just over a millimeter and about 2 millimeters long which are inserted into other pieces then bent to hold the piece in place. This means you wouldn’t need to glue anything together; just the model is enough, but they are quite the challenge to bend. We had pliers and tweezers out to help assemble this model. Even punching the pieces out of the metal sheet was quite difficult. We found the depth of the etching to be good, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to be careful. The process of putting the model together, from beginning to end, is not something to be rushed. Patience is key when building this model… you can sympathize with the many, many, many years it took to build Notre Dame de Paris.

One claim Metal Earth makes is that the instructions are easy to follow, but I find this debatable. It’s one of those instruction manuals that are all images, and I know some people that find that to not be enough (*cough* Vincent *cough*). I would suggest taking a look at the instructions for the model you are interested in on the Metal Earth website, and deciding if it is something you think you, or whoever you intend on gifting the model to, can follow.

Basically, there is a lot of opportunities for error with this model. I do really think it is great quality and the end result looks fantastic. I would recommend this particular model for someone that enjoys assembling 3-D models, has some experience with them and has a LOT of patience. There are other easier models that you choose to purchase instead. It comes down to what kind of theme you are looking for and what models you have access to. We look forward to future models of Churches and Cathedrals from Metla Earth.

View details of the Notre Dame model here.
Purchase the model here.

And that is a wrap for day 8! Be sure to come back tomorrow for day 9 of the series with Vincent!

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews was provided a sample of the Metal Earth Notre Dame DIY model for an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Metal Earth for the opportunity for us to review model on our blog and looks forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the product.

Day 6 Tabbies’ Bible Indexing Tabs – Camo series

We are half through this year’s 12 Days of Christmas Gift ideas! For day 6 I am writing another comparison post, this time for the camo series of the Tabbies Bible indexing tabs. Vincent has done a review Tabbie’s Bible indexing tabs before, and the claims made in that review still stand. In today’s review, I’m going to make a couple more points in addition to what Vincent said in that review and do a deeper dive into the camo series specifically. I’ve added some pictures of fully installed tabs below.

Ease of use is one of the claims for this product. There are a couple of features that I think support this claim:

  • The tabs are scored so that you could easily bend the backing and peel the tab that you want
  • The page is designed a bit like a sticker sheet, as in the tabs don’t start right at the edge of the page so it’s easier to peel the tab without ruining/fraying its edge
  • The instructions are are detailed enough to follow and also have accompanying pictures
  • The backing on the tabs have the instructions included (with the pictures!); so you are never without them
  • The pages with the tabs are numbered and the books are arranged in order, so there’s no guessing which tab goes where or how far along you are in the process of sticking them into your Bible
  • There is a practice tab

I tried to photograph all these features for your viewing interest.

Another feature I appreciate is how thin the clear sticky portion is. The tab itself is made of paper that feels a little thicker than regular paper, and its going to double up as well when you install (not quite the right word but it gets the point across) the tabs. The clear portion however, is a very thin plastic. It feels quite durable nonetheless. I appreciate this because it does the job of sticking the tabs in well without adding thickness to the Bible.

The camo series can give your Bible a unique look, and for that reason, I think it caters to a rather specific consumer pool. For someone who reads the Bible and likes camo pattern, this could be the best of both worlds for them. There a variety of colour ways; I received the forest tabs, which are your typical camo colours. There are pros and cons to this particular design.

I think the camo pattern is interesting, and not commonly seen, especially not for a religious product. The font chosen suits the pattern quite well. The overall design would go really well with more “rustic” Bibles. I’m thinking something along the lines of brown pebble leather cover. I also think the white font with the olive green outline is a good choice. I like the trapezoid shape the tabs have rather than the usual rectangle; its something a little different.

The biggest qualm I have with this design is the way it is printed gives it a slightly “speckled” look which I think works with the pattern, but it interferes with the readability of the text since the edges of the letters aren’t crisp. It seems to just be the coloured regions since anything that is black (the bottom edge of the tab, the practice tab) doesn’t have this. That is the one thing I think could be improved. While the words are still fairly legible, if the person you are thinking of gifting these to has trouble reading, I think a different design would be a better option. Another smaller gripe I have is there are blank tabs for the user to write whatever they wish, but I wish they were olive green rather than white. I understand why they are white, but I think they would fit in with the rest of the tabs better if they shared a colour with the rest of the camo pattern.

And that is all I have for today! I hope you are looking forward to the rest of the series!

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews was provided these Bible indexing tabs for an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Tabbies for the opportunity for us to review these items on our blog and look forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the product.

Day 4: Vatican Gift miraculous medal & rosaries

Welcome to my second review of 12 Days of Christmas season 3! Today, we have a series classic: rosaries. Not only that, they are rosaries from Vatican Gift, a company you may be familiar with if you followed the series last year. Vatican Gift has been kind enough to let us take a look at what a bigger budget can get you from their lineup. If you are not familiar with Vatican Gift, last year’s review may be a good place to start.

Let’s start today’s review with the not a rosary, but a miraculous medal, which is a product not mentioned in last year’s review. It comes in the typical blue Vatican Gift box. There is a little hook in which the medal is hooked onto. It is perfectly shaped so that together with the plush board the hook is attached to, the medal is held firmly in place but can still be removed without damage to the medal itself. The overall presentation is impressive.

The level of detail on the medal is also quite high. The etchings that form the letters, Mary’s facial features and the folds of her clothing look very clean and intentional. It is clear that care was taken when choosing what details to include and where they should be placed.

If you checked out the website, you would have noticed that the price (starting at $22) is quite a bit higher than what you may typically find at a Catholic shop or a shrine gift shop. This higher price is not only a result of the nice packaging and attention to detail, but also because this medal is made of sterling silver, made evident by the “925” marking on the back.

The perks of ordering such an item from Vatican gift is that, as detailed, it is much nicer than the miraculous medals you can buy for 50 cents to a dollar at a shrine souvenir shop for example, both in the etchings and the material quality. It also comes with packaging – nice packaging, might I add. The final perk is that there are a variety of sizes to choose from (please note that each size is priced differently). I think the price tag is justified when all these benefits are listed, but if you choose to gift this medal, the person receiving it may not be familiar with Vatican Gift and/or have read this post. Therefore, the person receiving the gift may not understand that this miraculous medal is indeed of higher quality (and price tag) and value it the way you hope they would. I think this is best gifted in addition to a rosary or given to someone who is familiar with medals and is fond of collecting those of higher quality.

Moving on to the rosaries, the first one I want to discuss is the Hematite rosary. The beads are made of hematite as the name implies and they all seem well made and very reflective, a quality that is noted on the web page. They also have quite a bit of weight to them which contributes to a luxurious feel. Upon close inspection, I noticed that not all of the beads have a perfectly smooth surface, which I think is a quality of the mineral. The crucifix and center piece of this rosary is also sterling silver and like the miraculous medal, do not have a high shine finish which is an interesting contrast to the rest of the rosary. I expected them to be heavier considering the weight of the beads, but these components are actually quite lightweight. The links between the beads feel sturdy, are all well shaped and appear to be the same size. The consistency between the links is an indicator of good quality.

The second rosary is from the Gratia Plena series. Rosaries in this series are “[d]esigned by Italian stylists, with the best raw materials, they are precious and elegant Rosaries.” This rosary is called the Emerald Swarovski Crystals And Murano Glass Rosary Necklace. It’s a rather long name but all the rosaries in this series are named like this. I suspect it is so that all the specifications of the rosaries are listed in the name and there is no need for a long description, and shoppers know exactly what they’re getting just by reading the name. It also makes my life easier; now I don’t have to list the materials for you. All the beads look really well cut/shaped; there aren’t any jagged edges or oddly sized beads. The beads flanking the larger Our Father beads have little crystals embedded which all seem well secured. According to the description, the crucifix is 24K gold plated sterling silver. Like the other rosary, this crucifix is also quite lightweight. The details in this crucifix aren’t very well defined; I think it may be a result of the plating process. Also, a very specific note, but I found Jesus’ feet to be painfully pointy. I think it could scratch someone given enough force. I know that not every one cares about that level of detail and it is also possible that that is a quality specific to the rosary I received, but it was something that stuck out to me. One final detail I want to note is the lobster claw clasp. I have never seen this feature in a rosary, but I think this is more geared toward the necklace aspect as the name details. I find that it works well and none of the links surrounding it feel loose. I think the jump between the Hail Mary beads may bother some people considering it is in the middle of a decade, so it is something to consider while shopping.

You may wonder how these rosaries, which are from the line of Precious Rosaries, differ from other rosaries, particularly the Vatican Gift rosaries we have previously reviewed. I think there are two main differences. The first is packaging. If you go back to the first Vatican Gift review we wrote, you will see that the first few rosaries we reviewed came in a little velvety pouch. These rosaries come in a very sturdy box. The exterior is a faux snake skin and the inside has a fuzzy spongey material. The hinges aren’t loose and feel very high quality. I also, however, would not be surprised if the faux snake skin layer eventually cracks or tears along the hinge given time. I will say I think it will take quite a bit of time and use before that might occur. The rosaries are then wrapped in two more layers of packaging before they are tucked into the box. The second major difference is the materials used to make the rosaries. These rosaries are made of very high quality precious stones, minerals, metals and glasses, not seen in the other lines. A common point I think worth mentioning is, as detailed in our previous review, you can have these rosaries blessed by the Pope. We provide more details in that review; please check it out if you are curious about this.

As I noted with the medal, these rosaries, too, are expensive, and it may be difficult for someone who is not familiar with the materials used to comprehend just how expensive they are and appreciate the craftmanship. I would only recommend these rosaries if you intend on purchasing one for someone who has been looking for more of a luxury rosary and likes the materials used to make the rosary you intend on purchasing. Otherwise, if you were attracted idea of purchasing a rosary that is then blessed by the Pope, I would recommend a rosary from one of Vatican Gift’s more affordable lines, which also have beautiful pieces.

And this concludes day 4! I hope you will look forward to the rest of the series for some (not quite as expensive) gift ideas!

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews was provided these rosaries and the miraculous medals for an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Vatican Gift for the opportunity for us to review these items on our blog and look forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the product.