A Glimpse at “Lives of the Saints for Children: January: Friends of Christ” written by Demetrios and Anna Fotopoulos and illustrated by Paraskevi Hatzithanasi

Newrome Press is 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: January: Friends of Christ, written by Demetrios and Anna Fotopoulos and illustrated by Paraskevi Hatzithanasi, translated by Nicholas Palis, and printed in 2019.

Authors Demetrios and Anna Fotopoulos have retold the stories of five saints/groups of saints in this January edition of the Friends of Christ series. Readers will learn much about the lives of St. Basil the Great (commemorated January 1); St. George the Neomartyr of Ioannina (Jan. 17); St. Mark of Ephesus (Jan. 19); the Venerable Ascetic Xenia and her two servants (Jan. 24); and the Venerable Ascetics Xenofon, his wife Maria, and their two children, Arkadios and John (Jan. 26). Children of various ages will be able to understand and enjoy the stories of these great saints, and readers of all ages will find new friends that they will wish to emulate. Each saint’s story is clearly written with young listeners in mind: even the hardships that the saints face are worded in a child-friendly manner. Translator Nicholas Palis effectively communicates the stories to English-speaking children.

The bulk of the book features the stories of these saints. But that is not all that this book has to offer: it also contains a handful of other important resources. The book begins and ends with helpful prayers (the morning prayer to one’s patron saint, and the evening one). The back of the book offers “the Friends of Christ Glossary”, which enables children to understand some of the difficult terminology of the book.

As with other books in this series, the illustrations are beautiful. Paraskevi Hatzithanasi’s sketches draw from iconographic representations, and colorfully illustrate the portion of the saint’s story that is being told. Her art enhances the text while also familiarizing readers with the saint(s) in such a way that they will easily recognize the saint’s icon, when they find it at church or elsewhere.

This well-made hardcover book will last through many January readings. Families and Church schools will likely return to this book, January after January. Each saint/group of saints’ story could be read all at once, say 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: January: Friends of Christ from Newrome Press, here: https://www.newromepress.com/youth/SQ0261001.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.

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