Sunday, May 29, 2016

Peg Saint Aficionados Will Love This Book!

This year, my children and I were introduced to the worthwhile experience of painting peg doll saints for swaps.  We also have a long tradition of celebrating saint days together, often times through reading more about the lives of specific saints.  So, when I heard that an Encyclopedia of Peg Saints book, endorsed by Bishop Wall of New Mexico, had been published, I got ultra-excited and immediately looked up more information about it.

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I found a hardcover version of the book ETSY and a softcover one one Amazon, and, then, decided to contact one of its authors, Maggie Jetty, to see if I might receive a review copy of the book.  I was psyched that she agreed and even more delighted to discover that she and her husband Micheal, the book's other author, signed the review copy they sent me.  How sweet!

My Initial Plan for Our Encyclopedia of Peg Saints

As soon as I began flipping through our review copy of the
Encyclopedia of Peg Saints, I knew it was a book that I did not want my children to see right away.  We had recently led a saint peg swap for children, which all my children, and especially my daughter, had been excited about.  Since she wanted to host another children's swap, upon holding the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints in my hands, I immediately decided it would be perfect inspiration for her next swap and that, grouped with some new wooden pegs, a few new brushes, and some paints, the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints would make a perfect gift for my daughter's June birthday.

The birthday gift idea hatched, I tucked our copy of t
he Encyclopedia of Peg Saints away, planning to read it on the sly myself in order to write a review of it before wrapping it up with other bits and pieces to surprise my daughter on her birthday.

Our Plan - Take Two

My plan got foiled!

When a friend of mine and I were chatting about a Lady of Fatima event she was planning for our homeschool group, she asked me if I had any brief stories about Our Lady of Fatima that she could borrow for the event.  I recalled that the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints has a Lady of Fatima page and told her that I did not have a story, but I did have a beautiful page of 
 a book that she could share.  So, I took the book out to show her.

Unfortunately, I did not get our copy of the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints tucked back away before my children saw it.  Of course, they wanted to dig into the book right away, but I told them it was for something special and they could not yet dive into it.  I hoped they would forget they saw it.
Fat chance!

I took our copy of 
the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints along to our Our Lady of Fatima celebration for my friend to use, and, although we did not end up having time to share a page of the book with everyone at the celebration, my  son spied the book in my bag and began looking through it a bit.  Later that week, during a quiet moment, he asked, "Mom where did you put the encyclopedia?" 

"Encyclopedia?" I echoed, wondering what he was talking about.  In a recent box of pass-along books, we had been given a children's dictionary, a children's thesaurus, and some how-and-why books that I had decided to keep instead of passing forward, so I thought my son might be looking for one of those.  "Do you mean a different kind of reference book, Son?  They are on the white shelves."

"Thanks," he replied and went to get his sought-after book from the shelves.

A few moment later, he called out, "Mom, I can't find it.  I want the yellow one.  The one my friends and I can use."

Huh?  I thought utterly perplexed.  I could not think of a yellow reference book we owned, much less one my son might want to peer over with his friends.  "Oh, do you mean one of your Minecraft ones from the library?"

"No, you had an encyclopedia with saints in it that you said we could look at later.  Can I look at it now?"

The light dawned on me, I took the book out, and went to my son to say I wanted to use it to surprise his sister, even if she'd already seen it once, so he could read it, but I'd like him to do it in his bedroom.

My son did so, and got quite excited about surprising his sister.  In fact, when preparing to write this review, I asked my oldest what he thought about the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints and he said:

I got some peg dolls for Christmas.  I already used some of them in a swap and want to use more.  This book will help me...My sister does the swaps, too, and she has not seen the book much yet, so I want to make her a peg from the book for her birthday and have mom buy some more pegs, so we can give her the book and pegs for her birthday.

Then, he began looking through the book, so he could choose which saint he might like to paint.  My daughter walked in, and he said,  "Mom, hide it."

My daughter asked "hide what" as she spied the corner of the book peeking out from under a blanket.  "If you mean that book," she continued, "I've already seen it and looked through it a little.  I like it!"

I smiled and said, "I know you've seen some of it before, Sweetie, but not all of it.  Mommy thought with your birthday coming up, I might give it to you to own, but, since you've already seen it, it won't be a surprise.  So, I suppose you would not like it."

My daughter bubbled, "No, I would like it.  I want to paint more saints.  I want to have another swap!"

Then, when she left the room, my son smiled slyly and said, "And she doesn't know I am going to paint her one of the saints!"

So, now, not only have I affirmed that
the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints is quite appealing to children, but plan two for my daughter's birthday is underway:  she will, indeed, get our copy of the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints to keep, and she will also get some pegs - one of which will already be painted by her brother as a surprise gift for her.  Perfect!

Why Is This Book So Appealing

As I said before, I asked my son what he thinks about 
the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints.  Besides talking about how it will help him lead another saint peg swap for children and it has given him an idea for his sister's birthday, he said:

It's a really nice book.  I like how it has a saint symbol on each doll and describes them, like on St. Patrick they have a three-leaf clover and on St. Padre Pio there is stigma.  I also like that there are small facts around each photograph.  That's the kind of book I like for when I am learning stuff.  I like it better sometimes than just a story.  It makes it easy to get the facts down in my head.  I also like how in the back they have themselves, their sons, the priest and a bishop. 

I like the book's design a lot, but I wish it had even more saints.  I think they should make another volume of totally different saints, and even more of them. 

I concur that 
Encyclopedia of Peg Saints is well-designed and filled with facts and illustrations that capture children's attention.  Each page features one of 36 different saints, with a photograph of a hand-painted saint peg doll in the middle of the page atop a light background that contains a photograph or fine-art painting of the saint.  Atop the background and around the peg saint photograph are many colored boxes filled facts, quotes, and information about the saint. The outside border of each page includes the saint's name and feast day.

This format makes
 the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints accessible for:

  • pre-readers, who can enjoy the images on each page as an older sibling, parent, or other reader reads information about the saint to the child
  • developing readers, who will likely be captured by the images in the book and, then, may be inspired to concentrate on a single box of information about the saint to puzzle out what it says
  • fluent readers, who, like my son, may pour over each page, devouring facts about the saints
  • aspiring peg saint painters, who will appreciate that the photographed models of peg saint dolls are beautiful, but not so complicated that they cannot be copied with a bit of practice
  • practiced peg saint painters, who will find plenty of information to inspire new peg saint doll designs

Truly, I think the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints is a book that can be appreciated by both young and old as a way to learn more about the saints while also being inspired to create art.  It also lends itself to other curricula connections for home educators and other teachers.

For example, the quotes included in the book are perfect for copywork exercises; information on dates and locations of saint births and deaths can connect to history and geography; and all the facts could act as seeds for growing self-written stories or reports.

In just over 36 pages, Maggie and Michael have put together a lovely, inspiring collection that includes the following saints:

  • Agnes
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • John Bosco
  • Blaise
  • Katherine Drexel
  • Dominic Savio
  • Patrick
  • Francis of Paola
  • Gemma Galgani
  • Mark
  • Our Lady of Fatima
  • Dymphna
  • Joan of Arc
  • Anthony
  • Maria Goretti
  • Benedict
  • Veronica
  • Kateri
  • Mary Magdalene
  • James
  • Christopher
  • Ignatius
  • John Vianney
  • Monica
  • Mother Teresa
  • Padre Pio
  • Gabriel the Archangel
  • Michael the Archangel
  • Therese of Lisieux
  • Francis of Assisi
  • Teresa of Avila
  • John Paul II
  • Juan DIego
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Lucy

For Future Volumes of the Book

Obviously, we love our copy of
 the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints, and we hope Maggie and Michael will make more volumes of it.  If they do, I'd like to officially request three things:

(1)  Practical Painting Tips and Information:  Surely those who peruse the
 Encyclopedia of Peg Saints will want to begin painting and having such information on hand would be quite helpful.  Thus, a few pages of how-to information, some tips on painting your own peg saint dolls, or links to where folks could find such information would be a lovely bonus in the book.

(2) Background Image Information:  While it is easy to find photographs and fine art paintings of saints online, I would love to have a list of the specific images used as backgrounds on each saint page of the encyclopedia.  The background choices in the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints and having a list of the names of each work would allow me to easily pull up a sharp, full-color image of the  images in order to do a Charlotte Mason-inspired picture study with my children.  Such art study, I think, would enhance and inspire the learning and painting the book already inspires.

(3)  More Saints - and One for Each Month:  My oldest son would love to see "tons more saints" in another book.  So would I.  I would also love to see at least one saint for each month of the year.  In paging through 
the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints, I noticed there is at least one saint for each month of the year except November.  I plan to use our Encyclopedia of Peg Saints as a resource for our liturgical year celebrations and would love to use it and a (hopeful!) volume 2 as a guide/inspiration for a monthly peg saint painting initiative.  Having at least one model saint per month would be helpful for this, but, of course, with 36 saints already featured, having no November saint page is A-okay.  There are plenty of beautiful pages to focus on!

Indeed, I am impressed with how much information and inspiration is packed into less than 40-pages in
the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints.  So, the three requests above are only offered as ideas for making a fabulous resource even better if a second volume is created (and I truly hope one is!)  In the meantime, we'll be thoroughly enjoying our "volume one" copy of the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints and recommending it highly to others!  Those who like to paint peg doll saints, celebrate the liturgical year, learn about saints, or gift unique Catholic items will all love this book, I think.  I know we do!

We truly love the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints and look forward to using it throughout the coming year.  For saint-study lovers like us, it is perfect!  Would it make a great addition to your saint resource collection, too?  Feel free to ask me any specific questions you might still have as you decide.


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