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The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith Hardcover – June 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3-This gentle tale celebrates the power of the Mass in the Roman Catholic faith. A shabby, penniless old woman enters the baker's shop as he is preparing luscious creations for the king's wedding, which is about to take place in the city cathedral. Few are expected to attend, however, because the populace has grown cold and neglectful about their faith. When the baker refuses to give the old woman even a crust of stale bread, she offers to say a Mass for him, in exchange for food. Scoffing, he writes "One Mass" on a tiny piece of paper, places it on his scale, and tries to overbalance it with heaps of his finest pastries, but to no avail. The Mass outweighs them all. Chastened, he and his customers hurry to the cathedral to renew the practice of their beliefs at their monarch's marriage. The text, which was inspired by an actual event recounted by a priest in Luxembourg, is written in a lilting, storytelling style and teaches its lesson sweetly. Double-page spreads of warm-toned watercolors are filled with swirling action and show charming, doll-like people in Victorian dress.
Patricia Pearl Dole, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“Lilting storytelling style. Charming.” —School Library Journal

“Wholly beautiful! For those of us with a religious background—or none!” —Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Gingerbread House; 1 edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940112094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940112094
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.4 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Josephine Nobisso's first story appeared in a national magazine when she was 18. In the ensuing 40+ years, she has published close to 90 books, mostly for children, but also published three romance novels for adults, under two pseudonyms. She has been published by many major houses, including Simon & Schuster, Putnam (Berkley/Jove), Houghton Mifflin, Scholastic (Orchard), Green Tiger Press, Rizzoli International, Pauline Books & Media, Winsow International, and Mondo Publishing. Her books have been translated into as many as 12 languages. Miss Nobisso regularly writes EFL books for three major Korean publishers, including Oxford University Press, and one of her Korean series has been turned into animated cartoons in that country.

With her daughter, Art Director Maria Nicotra, Josephine also runs the small press, Gingerbread Publishing House. It was launched in 2000 to bring back into print 3 of her out-of-print titles, but has since acquired 1 other o.p. title, and has gone on to produce 6 beloved and enduring original titles. Their list of 10 books, distributed by Independent Publishers Group, have won dozens of awards, and have appeared in the following five 5 major motion pictures, as set dressings:

"Motherhood," with Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver
"The Other Woman," with Natalie Portman and Scott Cohen
"The Switch," with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman
"Friends with Kids," with John Hamm and Megan Fox
"Two Days in New York," with Chris Rock and Julie Delpy

Each year, for the past quarter decade, and to consistently rave evaluations, Miss Nobisso conducts about 100 author visits and/or workshops in "The Nobisso Recommendations: Guiding Students to Write in Their Authentic Voices," part of which comes to life in her Show; Don't Tell! Secrets of Writing, a book for which she received "The Global Learning Initiative Award" for "The Best Trade Book (in the world!) with Educational Application"-- a singular citation jointly administered by the Association of Education Publishers and the Bologna Children's Book Fair. She has conducted dozens of staff develoment workshops, and presents intensive and innovative writing workshops at univerities in the United States and Italy.

The National Catholic Educational Association named her "Distinguished Graduate," The Wiilliam Floyd School District honored her with the "Distinquished Alumni Award" in 2013, and Delta Kappa Gamma--the international society of honored teachers-- named her "Friend of Education," for "someone outside the profession who has worked significantly toward improving the educational opportunities of others, and who has given outstanding service to promoting quality education."

Among the very many honors that Miss Nobisso books have received are five other awards for Show; Don't Tell! Secrets of Writing:
-the International Reading Association/Children's Book Council "Children's Choice Award,"
-an American Booksellers Association BookSense "Pick of the Lists" citation,
-a Parents' Choice Award,
-a National Parenting Publications Award,
-and a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Finalist.

Her 9 books eligible for awards have earned an extraordinary amount of other significant citations, among them:
-4 International Reading Association-Children's Book Council's "Children's Choices" awards
-Winner of The Northern Minnesota "Best Book of the Year Award"
-The National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council's "Notable Social Studies Books for Young People," citation
- Learning Magazine's "Teachers' Choice Award"
-3 "The Catholic Press Association Awards"
-Parents' Magazine's "Best Books of the Year" citation
-Named to Bank Street College of Education's "Best Books of the Year" list
-National Parenting Publications Award, "NAPPA"
-3 Gold Independent Publisher's Awards, the "IPPY's"
-3 Gold "Moonbeam Awards"
-"Indie Excellence" Gold Award
-Silver Nautilus Book Award
-3 ForeWord Magazine "Book of the Year" finalists
-2 "Storyteller World" Awards
-Parent Council's "Outstanding" citation
-"Parents' Choice Foundation Recommended Book"
-4 Gold Medal "Mom's Choice Awards"
-Winner of the "Green Earth Book Festival."
-"The Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices" list
-Named to The Kansas-National Education Association's "Reading Circle"
-2 "Best Books of the Year" citations from the Association of Booksellers for Children
-5 American Booksellers' Association's "Pick of the Lists" (aka "Book Sense 76" and "Book Sense Picks")

Josephine is active with aspiring writers, co-founding The Long Island Children's Writers and Illustrators (LICWI) group more than 2 decades ago. Intermittently, since the early 1970's, she has been a member of The Author's Guild and The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She cites having been acknowledged in 9 books by fellow writers as being the source of her greatest authorial pride.

Born to Italian parents on February 9, 1953, in the Bronx, Miss Nobisso attended P.S. 32 there, for Kindergarten, Saint Martin of Tours until the 4th grade, St. John the Evangelist Elementary School, and Mercy High School, in Riverhead, New York. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz, after having spent several semesters at l'Universita' degli Studi, in Urbino, Italy. In 3 years she earned a Provisional Teaching Certification, with a Specialization in Early Childhood, and graduated cum laude with a Contract Major in Foreign Languages. Miss Nobisso's languages are English, Italian (including the dialect, "'a Lengua Napuletan'"), passable French, and some German. She homeschooled her daughter from the 5th grade through high school. They live on the East End of Long Island, and on l'Alta Costiera Amalfitana, where they sing in the choir of La Santissima Annuziata.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Want to give your children or other children whom you love a precious gift? Give them this book! It's one they'll read as children and they'll read 40 years from now to their own children. It's not only a beautiful story, but one that will strengthen their faith.
Wonderfully written by Josephine Nobisso and luminously illustrated by Katalin Szegedi, The Weight of a Mass, is an original cultural folk tale based upon a true story. The story reads and looks like a fairy tale.
A ragged, destitute widow arrives at the kingdom's prosperous bakery and begs only a crust of bread in exchange for offering a royal wedding Mass for the baker.
The baker scoffs and tears off a tiny piece of tissue paper on which he writes the words: One Mass, intending to place them it on the scale to find out the value of a Mass.
Much to his surprise, when he drops a piece of old bread on the other side of the scale, it does not tip. So, he enlists his son to stack more and more baked goods on top of the scale. Out come cherry topped cupcakes, marzipan apple, filled chocolates, poppy seed cakes, rolls, donuts, fruitcakes, cream cakes, berry tarts, poached pears, plum pudding, candied fruits, almond confetti, crsuhed walnuts, and eventually the royal wedding cake.
The father, his son, the old woman, and others in the kingdom come to learn the weight of a Mass.
The story includes an author's postscript recounting the original story as told by Father Stanislaus from Luxembourg who tells of a conversation between a butcher and a Captain of the Forest Guards that was interrupted by an old woman begging a morsel of meat in exchange for a Holy Mass intention. As a result of the miracle, the Captian began attending Mass daily and one of his sons later received a calling to the priesthood.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Lori Hogan on September 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a really special book, one that helps teach children the value of attending mass. How often have you found yourself trying to convince your children how important it is to go to mass? Well, this beautiful book will help you share your faith and love of the mass. The story has a lovely fairy tale quality to it. The illustrations alone are just beautiful. Together the story and pictures are perfect. It is deep and ernest and loving. It is appropriate for any age. There is never a moment of heavy handedness. It is like reading any other fairytale, but there is so much more depth to it.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Paul on July 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Beautifully written and illustrated, "The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith" is a great story based on an existing legend. It is set in the style of a fairy tale to communicate the great teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the ultimate importance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass above all earthly things.

The story takes place mostly in a bakery shop where the people of the kingdom seem to prefer to spend their time rather than at church, we are told. The shop owner arrogantly argues with an old beggar woman that her offer to hear Mass for him if he were to give her a small piece of bread is of no value. His lack of faith becomes the occasion for a miracle in which a small piece of paper bearing the words "One Mass" is shown to outweigh all the items in his bakery. These items, representing the natural goods of this earth, are not able to even lower the scale one bit.

The response to the miracle is for the people of the kingdom, including the repentant shop owner, to rush out to attend the royal wedding Mass. The king and queen, of which very little is said, can be seen as an analogy of Christ and his Bride, the Holy Church. The desire of both is not so much to have people admire the grandiose royal wedding cake, but to join their hearts in the celebration of the Wedding Mass.

This is a very effective book for teaching kids and reminding adults of the surpassing value of the Mass and God's love for us. I was worried that my 3-year son, obsessed with Bob the Builder and the Veggietales would not appreciate the story, but he likes it very much and requests it at bedtime frequently.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Exquisitely written and illustrated, "The Weight of a Mass" is a rare gem of a book that will be appreciated by all ages and even all faiths, because though the theme is Christian, it speaks of the importance of God in our lives, and the triumph of faith over secularism. The story is based on an event that is said to have occurred in a Luxembourg butcher shop a few generations ago. In this telling it is placed in a bakery, as Jesus our Lord is the Bread of Life, and there are many other symbolic aspects to the tale, which increase our interest, and add freshness to the story every time we read it.

Josephine Nobisso, the author of many books and winner of numerous awards, writes in a lucid style with a rich and varied vocabulary. Not only will this lovely book bolster your child's faith, it will also increase his knowledge and usage of the English language, something that is hard to find these days, and it is one of the many reasons to own this book.

Katalin Szegedi began her career as an illustrator in her native Hungary in 1991, and her art that accompanies this story is marvelous in its expressiveness and technical skill. There is a grace and sense of movement in the figures, intricate patterns in the clothing, and terrific perspective and detailing in the architectural structures. The subtle colors are also beautifully balanced and contrasted. I especially like the depiction of the baker's son, who has a lively sweetness in his eyes and mouth, and a lovable innocence.

"The Weight of a Mass" has won several awards, and it will touch your heart and lift your spirit. The quality of the book is excellent, with thick semi-gloss paper and sturdy construction for both the hardcover and paperback editions. Inspired and full of beauty, "The Weight of a Mass" is a worthy book choice for the children in your life.
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