Tag Archives: Simonetta Carr

Michelangelo for Kids by Simonetta Carr

Carr, Simonetta. Michelangelo for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2016. 132 pp. $18.99. Purchase for less at Amazon.

Introduction

Simonetta is definitely no stranger to Christian Book Notes. I have reviewed a number of her books, most of which are for children, and have been fortunate enough to interview her as well. This is her first book in this series which includes resources on Leonardo da Vinci, Monet, a Van Gogh to name a few.

Summary

Part biography, part introduction to art, part art lab, there is something for every student of art in this resource.

From the back of the book:
Michelangelo Buonarroti – known simply as Michelangelo – has been called the greatest artist who has ever lived. His enormous masterpieces astonished his contemporaries and remain some of today’s most famous artworks. Michelangelo for Kids offers and in-depth look at his life, ideas, and accomplishments, while providing a fascinating view of the Italian Renaissance and how it shaped and affected his work.

Young readers will come to know Michelangelo the man as well as the artistic giant, following his life from his childhood in rural Italy to his emergence as a rather egotistical teenager to a humble and caring old man. They’ll learn that he did exhausting, back-breaking labor to create his art yet worked well, even with humor, with others in the stone quarry and in his workshop. Budding artists will come to appreciate the artist’s techniques and to understand exactly what made his work so great.

Review

Too be honest, I am not much into art or art history. I mostly know Michelangelo as the orange-bandanna wearing turtle who loves pizza. That is, until I flipped through this book. I did know he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel having grown up Roman Catholic. This book was extremely informational. Also, with all of the activities, my kids thoroughly enjoyed it.

I would like to point out, however, that this is not a Christian book per se. Simonetta explains in a blog post why she decided to write this particular book. Personally, I am grateful she took on the responsibility to write it. Having known her through email conversations and becoming familiar with her writing style and faithfulness to historic fact, she has proven herself to be a trustworthy biographer. Also, she was able to intertwine the Reformation and its influence on the artist even though he remained Roman Catholic.

I am fairly certain this resource become a staple in children’s art classes for years to come.

Recommendation

If you homeschool your children and you teach them art or art history, you will want to use Michelangelo for Kids as one of your resources. It is full of 21 different activities that will engage the children (and the teachers!) all the while teaching them about one of the greatest artists of all time, if not the greatest.

I highly recommend this resource to anyone interested in an introduction to the life of Michelangelo.

Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr

Marie DurandCarr, Simonetta. Christian Biographies for Young Readers – Marie Durand. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015. 64 pp. $18.00. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is back with the 9th volume in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series. You can read reviews of many of her books as well as interview here.

Summary

From the back of the book:

In 1730, nineteen-year-old Marie Durand was arrested and taken from her home in a village in Southern France for the crime of having a brother who was a Protestant preacher. Imprisoned in the Tower of Constance, Marie would spend the next thirty-eight years there. Simonetta Carr introduces us to the inspiring life of a woman who could have recanted her Protestant faith and gained release, but held fast to the truth and encouraged others to do so as well. Beautiful illustrations, a simply told story, and interesting facts acquaint young readers with the challenges facing Protestants in eighteenth-century France and show them that even a life spent in prison can be lived in service to Christ and others.

Review

I honestly had never heard of Marie Durand until reading this children’s biography. Simonetta expertly tells the story of the 18th century wranglings between the Protestant and Catholic churches in France from the perspective of Marie.

Through the retelling of her life, children today will learn that faith does indeed cost and sometimes the price exacted is more than we think. In the end, God will reward one’s faith in Him as only He can.

Recommendation

As with all of the biographies in this series, I highly recommend this to all readers of any age. There are many stories to be told about God’s faithfulness in the lives of His children. Many stories have gone untold until now. The church remains indebted to Simonetta Carr for her work on this series. Pick up a copy today and you will see why.

Jonathan Edwards by Simonetta Carr

Jonathan EdwardsCarr, Simonetta. Christian Biographies for Young Readers – Jonathan Edwards. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. $18.00.  Purchase at Westminster Books. Also, at Amazon.

Introduction

Readers here at Christian Book Notes know Simonetta Carr. Every book in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series has been reviewed here to date.  Also, I have been bless to have interviewed her as well.  She is certainly a favorite of the readers of this book site as well as a personal favorite of mine.

Summary

Simonetta takes a different approach to this biography given her younger audience.  She looks first and foremost at a young Edwards which also happens to be the inspiration of the cover.  She then moves quickly through his being a student and a young pastor only to spend much time on The Great Awakening and his work as a missionary to the Native Americans.  She closes the book with a copy of a letter from a concerned father to his daughter, Mary.

Review

In only 64 pages, Carr delivers an excellent summary of the life of Jonathan Edwards. For those that know Simonetta personally or via Facebook, they will be aware that this particular biography took on a very personal aspect for the author as she endured great tragedy in her own family.  The providence of God would be such that she was working on the final touches and one can’t help but read the final chapter with great gravity as Simonetta pours her heart and soul into its pages.

To be able to say so much in such a small biography about America’s greatest theologian of which so much has been written is a testimony to Simonetta’s ability as a biographer and writer.  She has become a master of the informative highlights of these great clouds of witnesses that have gone before that I would hardly trust another biographer to write such succinct and historically accurate biographies than Simonetta Carr.

Recommmendation

I have recommended every one of these biographies in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series and I do not see any reason why I cannot recommend this biography to all.

John Knox by Simonetta Carr

John KnoxCarr, Simonetta. John Knox. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 64pp. $18.00. Purchase at Westminster books for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is no stranger to readers here at Christian Book Notes.  I have been blessed to review most everything she has written as well as interview her.  You can find all of our interactions together here.

Matt Abraxas, the illustrator for a number of the books in this series, is renown for his work on display at the SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder, Colorado.  He has traveled from California to France, studying different approaches to art.  You can watch many of his videos on his YouTube channel.

Summary

From the back of the book:

From armed bodyguard to galley slave, from loving husband and father to fiery preacher, John Knox was moved by a relentless passion for the honor of God and the purity of His truth and worship. Yet when he was a schoolboy growing up in the small Scottish town of Haddington, he could never have imagined that he would become a major leader of the powerful movement that transformed Scotland into one of the most committed Protestant countries in the world. Simonetta Carr tells the story of how this great Reformer, whose life began humbly, in a faraway, mysterious part of the world, influenced the church and its beliefs far beyond the borders of Scotland, shaping our thinking still today.

Review

What child knows about John Knox? For that matter, how many adults know about John Knox? After reading this biography, they will not only know the pertinent information about one of the more fiery men of church history, but it is almost certain they will want to know more about the man.  Furthermore, this particular edition in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers will reinforce the reality of the bloodiness that was the Reformation.

If the reader would take the timelines from the various biographies previously published in this series, they will begin to see just how much overlap there was in the many lives that constituted and directed the Protestant Reformation.  For example, Lady Jane Grey, was born, rose to become Queen, and was executed all within the lifetime of John Knox.

Recommendation

Here is yet another winner in this very important series.  Given the wide swath of men and women included in this series of biographies, a child will have an excellent understanding of the giants in the faith who have gone before them.  Also, these biographies are quickly becoming a clarion call to a new generation to stand fast in the faith and fight for salvation of lost souls through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Every Christian home should have these biographies available to read.

Lady Jane Grey by Simonetta Carr

Lady Jane GreyCarr, Simonetta. Lady Jane Grey. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012. 64pp. $18.00. Purchase at Westminster books for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is no stranger to readers here at Christian Book Notes.  I have been blessed to review most everything she has written as well as interview her.  You can find all of our interactions together here.

Note: I am reviewing this book now instead of nearly two years ago because I lost it while working as a retail manager and then packing as I took a call to pastor a church in Mexico, MO.  We just found it!  Sorry.

Summary

For a great summary and introduction to the book itself, check out this video:

Review

I am excited about this volume of the Christian Biographies for Young Readers because it introduces a revolutionary young woman to both boys and girls.  More importantly, Simonetta was able to capture the magnitude and greatness of what genuine faith in the Lord may cost a believer.  In this case, Lady Jane Grey had it all yet gave it up because of her faith in Someone greater.  Truly, she embodied the importance of not storing up wealth on earth where moth and rust destroy.  As the story unfolds, the reader will be hooked by the intrigue and the infighting (all in the name of Christ).  In the end, there is not a worldly happy ending, but there is a happy ending–Lady Jane Grey stood by her convictions and faith.

The illustrations by Matt Abraxas are colorful and enjoyable and certainly keep the attention of the young reader.  You can see many of the illustrations in the above video.

Recommendation

This entire series is worthy of your attention especially if you have children.  This particular biography of Lady Jane Grey stands above the rest in the series, however, because it looks at a female who had a major role during the Reformation political battle between the Catholic and Protestant churches.  Read this to your children.  Read it to your daughters. In so doing, you will teach them what it means to genuinely die to self for the sake of the Kingdom of Christ.

Anselm of Canterbury by Simonetta Carr

AnselmCarr, Simonetta.  Anselm of Canterbury. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2013.  64 pp.  $18.00.  Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is no stranger to the readers of Christian Book Notes. She is the author of the Christian Biographies for Young Readers Series that is doing amazing things to bring the glorious history of the church to life for a new and much younger generation. You can read past reviews on the other books in the series that started back in 2008.   She has also been interviewed here. You can become a fan of Christian Biographies for Young Readers on Facebook.  Continuing her theme of one church leader per era, she has now focused on Anselm of Canterbury.

Summary

Divided into 6 chapters over 60-plus pages, Carr offers a vivid retelling of the life of who many now call St. Anselm.  Anselm lived mostly in the 11th  century and wanted to become a monk living in a monastery more than anything in the world.  Through many world events, Anselm becomes archbishop of Canterbury.  The Crusades and the split with the Church in the East play heavy roles in the life of Anselm and this is duly noted.  Also noted is the life of simplicity and servant-hood Anselm sought to live.  Still, Carr does not give us a sterile Anselm as we see his anger and his fear of being a leader (his appointment as archbishop of Canterbury).

Review

This is now the 6th book in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series.  With each book, Carr’s ability to tell a condensed though extremely informative biography of a great Christian saint from history gets better and better.  Being a Protestant herself, I appreciate her willingness to tell the story of those who many struggle to call Christian because of their affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church though she does not embrace the ecumenicism that denies essential Christian doctrines.  Also, her willingness to bring forth the person, warts and all, is to be commended.  Often, in children’s works, we want to make the subject of the biography perfect so that the children can emulate someone decent only to discover later that their hero was in fact a sinner.  Simonetta does not do this and that gives credibility to her biographies.

Recommendation

I cannot recommend this children’s series highly enough.  I have become a huge fan of Simonetta Carr and her writings (both adult and children).  There are so many reasons I can think of as to why you should own and read Anselm of Canterbury but perhaps the best reason is that it is one volume in a larger series that will eventually, Lord willing, offer one of the greatest panoramic views of history of the church that we have ever been privy to.  If you have not read any of the other five volumes in this series, then you can begin here and work your way back in time.  You will not regret it.  I promise.

Renee of France by Simonetta Carr

Renee of FranceCarr, Simonetta.  Renee of FranceEngland: Evangelical Press Books, 2013. 128 pp.  Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr has become one of my personal favorite authors.  She has done more for children’s literature in terms of biographies than any author I have read.  You can read my reviews as well as my interview of Simonetta here.  You can also become a “fan” of her Christian Biographies for Young Readers series on Facebook.

Summary

Renee lived in the 1600’s and wound up right in the middle of the Reformation (she was seven when Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door).  Carr traces Renee’s thoughts as she struggles with what to believe and, more importantly, why she should believe it.  She was a tender-hearted woman who wanted to please God.

Review

Carr does an excellent job staying objective in her treatment of this controversial woman of the Reformation.  For the Roman Catholic Church believes she was deceived by John Calvin and the other Reformers while the Protestants believe her to be a champion of the Reformation.

I liked that Carr let Renee do the talking for herself so to speak in order that the reader could get a better feel for the inner turmoil taking place in her life as the war of Reformation took place all over Europe.  More importantly, Carr masterfully shows what it means to be a Berean and to search the Scriptures along with seeking the insight of great thinkers all the while looking to the Bible for confirmation.

Recommendation

Simonetta Carr has done it again in this superbly written biography!  Renee of France will provide much insight into the horrendous pressure to choose a side in what we call the Reformation.  This work is recommended highly to all Christians, young and old, who want to know more about their heritage from which they come.

 

Weight of a Flame by Simonetta Carr

Carr, Simonetta.  Chosen Daughters, 16th-Century Europe. Weight of a Flame: The Passion of Olympia Morata.  Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2011.  224 pp.  $11.99.  Purchase at Westminster for $8.51.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is most known to readers here at Christian Book Notes for her Christian Biographies for Young Readers series published through Reformation Heritage Books.  You can read reviews of that series, as well as check out our interview, here.  While the other series is an introduction to the men and women in the history of the church from various time periods, this particular book, part of the Chosen Daughters series, shows her ability to write in the historical fiction genre.

Summary

From the back of the book:

Olympia Morata (1526-1555) is a girl far ahead of her time. A quick tongue and a ready pen are her mind’s tools to record her vivid thoughts, poetry, songs, and opinions. Appointed tutor to Duchess Rene’s children, her future is bright when suddenly, evil rumors turn her world upside-down. In the midst of it all a young doctor comes courting. Will their love survive the danger waiting on the other side of the Alps?

For those like myself who did not know who Olympia Morata was, here is some more information.

Review

While the book did start a bit slow, there were a lot of people to become acquainted with, it quickly picked up speed.  To read about all that happened to this young woman during such a short life span was sobering.  Furthermore, being able to know and trust the author, Simonetta, helped lend credence to the story that she was telling.

The story was certainly gripping and the historical research was evident.  This was an enjoyable read and one that continually led me to question the strength of my own faith.  Any work, be it historical fiction or theological, that gets the reader to think on the most important matters of life is definitely worth your time.

Recommendation

This series of books, and therefore, this particular title, is meant for a teen girl audience.  That being said, I see no reason why anyone could read this and not profit from the story.  Younger boys will realize that the heroes of the church are not always men and parents, like myself, will be challenged to consider what they are accomplishing in the raising of their children.  I recommend this work to all Christians, especially those who are teenagers.

Athanasius by Simonetta Carr

Carr, Simonetta. Athanasius. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2011. 66 pp. $18.00. Purchase at Westminster for $13.50.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is no stranger to the readers of Christian Book Notes. She is the author of the Christian Biographies for Young Readers Series that is doing amazing things to bring the glorious history of the church to life for a new and much younger generation. You can read past reviews on the other three books in the series —John Calvin, Augustine, and John Owen.   She has also been interviewed here. You can become a fan of Christian Biographies for Young Readers on Facebook, too.  This particular volume in the series looks at the life of Athanasius.

Summary

Divided into five chapters, the young (an old) reader is introduced to a young Athanasius who is called to lead the Christian church during a difficult season.  You will quickly discover that God called Athanasius during a special time in which he became one of the greater defenders of orthodox faith.  Twice Athanasius was forced into exile and hid in the deserts for much of his life.  In the end, the young reader will learn that the early church fought many battles to maintain a proper understanding of who Christ is.  In this case, the doctrine of the Trinity was defended.

Included in the back of the book is a timeline offering the highlights of the life of Athanasius as well as a “Did you know?” section that gives some finer points and information that was alluded to in the body of the book.  The author concludes with the Nicene Creed.

Review

As usual, the story is well told and is engaging for the children.  The colorful pictures and paintings help the kids to visualize the realness of what took place in the life of Athanasius.  Matt Abraxas is the artist behind paintings.

Most impressive is Simonetta’s way in which she tackles the sometimes difficult life of Athanasius.  He was a fierce defender of orthodoxy, but was also what I would call a firebrand.  Regardless, the author does a wonderful job of showing why he was so beloved then and now.

Recommendation

While each book in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers can stand alone, Simonetta Carr is painting a beautiful mural of the history of the Christian church.  I echo Michael Haykin’s sentiments when he wrote, “I am fast becoming a real fan of Simonetta’s writing.”  The only change I would make is that I am already a huge fan.

I highly recommend Athanasius as well as the other books in this series to parents who are wanting to introduce true heroes to their children.

 

John Owen by Simonetta Carr

Carr, Simonetta.  John Owen.  Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010.  66 pp.  $18.00.  Purchase at Westminster for $12.60.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is no stranger to the readers of Christian Book Notes.  She is the author of the Christian Biographies for Young Readers Series that is doing amazing things to bring the glorious history of the church to life for a new and much younger generation.  You can read past reviews on the other two books in the series —John Calvin and Augustine.  She has also been interviewed here.  You can become a fan of Christian Biographies for Young Readers on Facebook, too.  This particular book looks at the life, ministry, and writings of John Owen.

Summary

In essence, Carr hits the highlights of the “career” of John Owen.  She looks at his birth and death as well as his ministry with Oliver Cromwell whom he served as a chaplain to and even introduces the children to his numerous books that are still impacting the world today.

Review

I was impressed with how Carr brought to life such a difficult man to understand.   She even makes the comment that his books and sermons are not easy to read today but they are worth reading nonetheless.  She also introduces the children to other figures through the life of John Owen.  For example, she shares of Owen’s affection for John Bunyan and how he would trade in all of his learning if he could preach the way Bunyan could.

Recommendation

As I have with the other two books in this series, I highly commend this book to you as both a parent and a pastor.  I enjoy reading these to my children and enjoy even more seeing my oldest (6) want to read about the lives of the saints from yesteryear.  Begin early cultivating a love for reading and history and your children will be the better for it.

As a pastor, I am thankful that many parents who read these books to  or with their children are learning themselves.  I know I have learned from reading these books myself.