Newrome Press has begun publishing a twelve-book series called Friends of Christ. Each book is filled with the stories of five saints who are commemorated during a particular month of the year. Here is a closer look at Lives of the Saints for Children: November: Friends of Christ, written by Demetrios and Anna Fotopoulos and illustrated by Paraskevi Hatzithanasi, translated by Nicholas Palis, and printed in 2021.
Authors Demetrios and Anna Fotopoulos have beautifully told the stories of five saints in this November edition of the Friends of Christ series. Readers will learn much about the lives of Venerable David of Evia ( commemorated on Nov. 1), St. Porphyrios the Mime (Nov. 4), Sts. Galaktion and Episteme (Nov. 5), St. John Chrysostom (Nov. 13), and the Holy Great Martyr Katherine (Nov. 25). Each saint’s story is told in such a way that children of various ages can understand. Readers (even adults) will be challenged to grow to be more like that saint. (This reader learned a great deal from this book, even about the two saints whose stories she thought she already knew!) The text is interesting, thorough, and understandable. And the stories were clearly written with young listeners in mind: even the hardships that the saints face (for example, St. Katherine’s martyrdom) are worded in a child-friendly manner. Translator Nicholas Palis has done a good job of expressing the stories in English.
Aside from the stories of the saints, this book offers a handful of other important resources. The book opens and closes with prayers. It opens with the morning prayer to one’s patron saint, and closes with the evening one. That seems a beautiful way to begin (or end) each reading, depending on the time of day, as the reader’s saint can certainly pray that God will work in the heart of the reader through reading the example of the saint in the book! The back of the book features several pages called “the Friends of Christ Glossary”: a thorough child-friendly explanation of difficult terms and unfamiliar places mentioned in the book.
Young children will be drawn to the illustrations on every page. Paraskevi Hazithanasi’s colorful sketches seem to draw heavily on iconographic representations, while also perfectly illustrating the portion of the saint’s story that is being told on that page. Her art helps each reader to better understand the text while also being able to easily identify the saint, should the reader later encounter the saint’s icon.
This sturdy hardcover book will last through many November readings. This is good, because it is likely that its readers will benefit from reading it year after year. One saint’s story could be read in one sitting, once a week (for a family night, or in a Sunday Church school class, for example), or bit by bit, across a series of days, until it is completed. The book comes with a large decal featuring one of the illustrations. This decal would be a fantastic addition to a timeline if the family or Church school room has one on their wall; but it also makes a wonderful bookmark to mark the reader’s place in each story.
You can order your own copy of Lives of the Saints for Children: November: Friends of Christ from Newrome Press, here: https://www.newromepress.com/youth/SQ0261011.html
We thank Newrome Press for sharing this book with us, so that we can share it with you.
Reviewed by Kristina Wenger, educator, podcaster, co-author of Tending the Garden of Our Hearts