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The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica Hardcover – September 10, 2001


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; 1st edition (September 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399234241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399234248
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

oet, feminist and Benedictine oblate Norris (The Cloister Walk) turns to the sixth-century twins Benedict and Scholastica for this informative dual biography. In easily accessible language and a straightforward tone, she describes the twins' embrace of the monastic life and Benedict's miraculous visions and special calling. Norris is at her most appealing in her wry contrast of Benedict's hard-won insights into the peaceful maintenance of monastic order, codified in his famous Rule, with Scholastica's natural understanding of the shared spiritual life. Young readers will be lured into the narrative by dePaola's friendly art, presented in panels that loosely recall the structure and composition of medieval religious art. Like Norris, he emphasizes Benedict's and Scholastica's humanity rather than their saintliness. Readers will be able to identify with these protagonists, even if the complexities of their vocations elude them. Ages 4-8.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 2-4-This fictionalized biography of Saints Benedict and Scholastica, twins who lived in sixth-century Italy, is told in a lively, authoritative manner. Born to a respected family in the mountain town of Nursia, the children were separated for their education. Scholastica was placed in a convent and Benedict was sent to Rome. Repelled by the power struggles, injustice, and greed he encountered in the city, Benedict longed for a simple, prayerful life. First he became a cave-dwelling hermit, and later, after many difficulties, he founded a monastery on Monte Cassino, which eventually became the Benedictine order of monks. Meanwhile, his sister remained in the convent and supported her beloved brother with prayer. Many stories of miracles are woven into the text. A brief summary of the Rule of St. Benedict, still used by monks and nuns today, is included. As usual, dePaola's elegant, stylized artwork seems particularly well suited to the eternal quality of religious subjects. The framed spreads are painted in soft, warm acrylics on tea-stained watercolor paper, which gives the semblance of an old manuscript. The text is arranged in boxes of various sizes to help create an eye-appealing format.

Patricia Pearl Dole, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


More About the Author

Kathleen Norris is the award-winning poet, writer, and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Cloister Walk, Amazing Grace, and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. An oblate of Assumption Abbey, Norris divides her time between Hawaii and South Dakota.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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She understands the essence of the hagiography and makes it very accessible.
Former English teacher
When the twins grew older, as was the custom of their day, Benedict was sent to Rome to study while Scholastica went to a nearby monastery to learn to read and write.
Gail Cooke
Illustrated by Tomie de Paola, the book is also bound to garner some interest amongst the "Strega Nona" fans as well.
E. R. Bird

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Twin brother and sister Benedict and Scholastica were rambunctious youngsters who lived many years ago in Nursia, a small mountain town in northern Italy. They climbed trees, raced each other up and down the hills, and befriended stray cats. They were not only twins but constant playmates and best friends.
When the twins grew older, as was the custom of their day, Benedict was sent to Rome to study while Scholastica went to a nearby monastery to learn to read and write. While Scholastica easily adapted to her new live, enjoying the women she met and the prayers that were said, Benedict was troubled by the poverty and cruelty to slaves that he encountered in Rome. Although he knew that the great city opened many avenues for him and that he was expected to remain there to study, Benedict chose to go to a small village where he joined a small number who spent their days in prayer and labor.
Later, Benedict felt God was calling him to live alone so he found a cave for shelter. It was there that shepherds found him and deemed him to be a holy hermit. As Benedict's reputation spread other clerics became envious and even tried to do away with him.
Eventually the solitary believer went to the peak of Monte Cassino where he founded a monastery, which became a refuge for many.
Scholastica, along with a group of other nuns, would come to the monastery to visit her brother once a year and became a great source of support for him and his work.
Tomie de Paola's delightful, boldly colored acrylic illustrations enliven this inspiring story of faith and devotion.
- Gail Cooke
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read my first Kathleen Norris book, "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography", in a Humanities class in 1996. Little did I know then that the adept writer would pop up later in my life with the book, "The Holy Twins". Examining the lives of St. Benedict and Scholastica from childhood to their deaths, the book is a careful examination of the path to spiritual enlightenment. To me, this book falls firmly into the category of picture-books-for-adults. The book is a spiritual journey, one that could easily bore children but that contains enough life and verve within its pages to retain interest amongst the older crowd. Illustrated by Tomie de Paola, the book is also bound to garner some interest amongst the "Strega Nona" fans as well.
The story follows the twins, Benedict and Scholastica. As children they played together in the hills of northern Italy. As time passed, however, they were separated and went their different ways. Scholastica joined a convent and Benedict studied, eventually becoming a holy man of sorts. The book mostly examines Benedict and his life, from one near poisoning to another. When the siblings are united their personalities haven't changed much since their days as children and they still react to one another similarly. In the end, Scholastica is the first to pass away and Benedict decrees that he be buried with his twin when he too dies. An author's note at the end (also accompanied by de Paola's illustrations) explains the rule of St. Benedict and gives some additional information about how Benedict influenced monasteries for centuries to come.
As I mentioned before, I personally can't see the little ones put to bed with this as their bedtime story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miryam Shoresh on October 8, 2005
Format: Library Binding
I don't want to repeat what has been said by the reviewers listed below my review or the other statements made by the professional reviewers. I would agree with most of what they have said. I do want to say that I believe that this book is one which will be appreciated by both children and adults given the reasons stated elsewhere on this book's page. I also want to point out that while there are few words about Scholastica, the pictures in the book show her as a novice, being accepted into the community and being sent out with other nuns from one foundation to begin another monastery, being chosen of the abbess for it. These pictures are included on the same pages that are portraying Benedict's life and relate to what is happening in Scholastica's life at the same time period as what is being written about which is happening in Benedict's life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Meredith on March 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book on these two formidable Saints that shaped much of Catholic History at the time of their lives. Classic Tomie dePaola style, a must have for any picture book library!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By FWMame on December 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a beautiful book, but I would not read it to a small child. There are some topics such as abuse that are part of the storyline, but would be better for maybe 5th grade or up??
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm65 on January 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a cradle Catholic, I was brought up on the stories of saints. One of my favorites was the one of Scholastica praying to God that she could have more time with her brother Benedict. God sent a storm so Benedict couldn't go home. This particular story illustrates both the power of prayer, and the stubbornness of a godly woman!
As a mother of twins, I was delighted to find this book for my own twins. One story I didn't know, but could vouch for, is the invisible mental bond between twins. Benedict knew that Scholastica had died, before the news came to him.
Written by Kathleen Norris, a gifted writer, and illustrated by the incomparable Tomie de Paola, this is a perfect gift for all children, twins or not. I must admit, when I received it, I read it myself with great pleasure. Scholastica is a little known saint among Catholics of this generation. She deserves to be better known. Benedict is a holy model for all, men or women. This wonderful book will remain on my bookshelf, to be shared with my grandchildren.
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