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The Nativity of Christ (Lily Parascheva Rowe / Roland J Ford)


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#1 Lily Parascheva Rowe

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:12 PM

Title: The Nativity of Christ
Author: Lily Parascheva Rowe
Illustrator:Roland J Ford
Publisher: St. Stylianos Books, Parkville, MD 21234
ISBN: 978-0-9831531-0-8
Pages: 20
Sub-genre: Children's books
Price: $10.95
Links: www.stylianosbooks.com
Description: An Orthodox children's book telling the narrative of the story of Christ's birth.

#2 Lily Parascheva Rowe

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 01:30 AM

I should start with the obvious disclaimer that I am both the reviewer and the author and so not very impartial.

The Nativity of Christ was written as the first in what will become a very exhaustive and numerous series of children's books designed to offer an Orthodox child the opportunity to learn the narrative of the Holy Orthodox Church in a format that is easily accessible to them and theologically correct.

The book begins with a scene from a typical Orthodox liturgy and explains to the children a few lines of introduction about the feast. The next two pages are an introduction to two different icons. The Virgin of Tenderness is used to explain the dual natures of Christ, and establish the Theotokos as "God-bearer". It introduces both the terminology and the concept. The Nativity icon is used to introduce the narrative on which the rest of the book is based.

The rest of the narrative follows the biblical accounts and the protoevangelium. It begins the story with the journey to Bethlehem and ends with the journey to Egypt. Since these books are designed for young children certain aspects of the story have been delicately handled so that parents have the freedom to introduce certain ideas at their child's pace and with their own discretion. For instance Joseph's fear that Mary had been unfaithful is explained as his doubt that the baby within Mary is really the Son of God. This states essentially the same thing without inviting questions that might force the parent into a topic of sexuality which the child might be to innocent to understand. The book also leaves out images of the slaughter of the innocents. Certainly this happened however it should be up to parents to decide at what point to broach these subjects. The motive of "the evil king Herod" is explained as he "desired to destroy the child" to explain why they had to flee to Egypt and also why the wise men should not return to Herod.

Within the text are woven both the Troparion and the Kontakion. In this way children will connect the icon, the narrative and the liturgical verses together so that through repetition in reading the book they will come to recognize the icon when they see it in a Church, be able to identify the various aspects of the icon and say what parts of the story they are, tell the narrative of the story, and recall the story when they hear the songs in the Nativity service.

The images in the book loosely follow the iconography. Clothing, the position of figures, and certain other features of icons are used in order to teach certain skills that will help children learn to understand icons. For instance on one page the illustration clearly shows the shepherds visiting Christ in the cave in the upper half of the page and the shepherds telling people what they saw in the lower half of the same page without a clear break in the image. This is meant to show children that the same picture can illustrate two different events in time.

The figures themselves are iconographic in ones sense and not in another. They are far enough away from looking like an icon that no one would ever confuse them with an object to be venerated yet follow icons in certain ways so as to be instructive and create a template in the mind of the child so that the child will recognize the icon of an event by the similarities in the pictures in the book. The illustrations offer children an attractive cartoon like atmosphere with which to immerse their imaginations so that they can absorb the narrative and maintain interest in the subject matter so necessary to a child's learning.

The book is full color and has full page illustrations. It is 7x7 inches with a cover and paper strong enough to take some wear. It is staple bound.

#3 Angie

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 07:11 AM

Hi Lily,

Glory to God I teach Orthodox Scripture and this seems like a wonderful book. I find that when you have a lot of children the book needs to be big, so the children at the back can see clearly. Perhaps an idea for future books?

I love the fact that it is Orthodox. Sometimes it is hard to find Orthodox Books for children in Australia.

Thanks
Angela

#4 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 12:19 PM

This is wonderful Lily. This is exactly what is needed. I have already passed information about the book on to my parishioners. It would be appreciated if you could let us know when future volumes of the series come out.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#5 Lily Parascheva Rowe

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 12:24 PM

Our thought was that ideally every child in a Sunday school class would have their own book to look at and so the book would need to be small enough for a child to handle. Another idea is to buy enough books that there would be a book for every two children. However at some time in the future, when more books are in print, perhaps we will produce a teacher volume that is bigger.

It is much more cost effective to produce the books at the 7 X 7 size and so more accessible to more children. Eventually also we would like to sell enough books that we could lower the price of the books significantly or at least give large volume discounts for Churches that want to supply their whole Sunday School department. It all depends on how many people buy the books. At the moment not very many people know we exist. We do give Church book stores a 20% discount when they purchase at least 5 books. They just have to email me and I give them a code to use at checkout on the web site.

In the Fall another book will be in print also. "The Nativity and Early Life of St. John the Forerunner"

We have many books written and are simply trying to create enough cash flow to pay for printing at this point.

#6 Angie

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 12:57 PM

Dear Lily,


Here in Australia we teach in public schools, so there could be about 35 children in one class.

I will however, keep a lookout for your books.

God Bless you and your team for these beautiful books.

With Love in Christ
Angela

#7 Lily Parascheva Rowe

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 01:05 PM

You can teach Christianity in a public school somewhere on this blessed Earth?!!! Awesome!

#8 Olga

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 01:17 PM

You can teach Christianity in a public school somewhere on this blessed Earth?!!! Awesome!


I don't know Angela personally, but she could be referring to "Greek School" classes, held after normal school hours a couple of times a week in many state schools in Australia. These classes are usually run by local parishes.

#9 Lily Parascheva Rowe

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 02:41 PM

Even still, we could do nothing like that in the United States.

#10 Lily Parascheva Rowe

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 03:30 PM

In case this escaped your attention you can buy the books at www.stylianosbooks.com online.

#11 Mary Beth Feldman

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 11:49 PM

My daughter received this book as a gift from her godmother and also purchased some for our church bookstore. The text wonderfully tells the story and helps the child relate the biblical narrative to what is happening in liturgy during the Advent/Christmas seasons. There are also tips for parents in the back. The illustrations are in iconographic style, but are bright primary colors that children are attracted to and to which they can relate easily. I would highly recommend this book to parents and teachers who are working to educate children in the Faith.

#12 Angie

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 11:01 AM

Hi,

Here in Australia, we are allowed, Glory be to God, to teach in public schools.

Unfortunately, its only half an hour, but I make it the best half an hour I can :)

Thanks Lily, for the site.

With Love in Christ
Angela




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