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Young Mary of Nazareth Hardcover – September, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Citing sources from the Gospels, the Apocrypha and early saints/mystics' writings, Mayer (The Unicorn and the Lake) fills in the details before the virgin birth. Mayer includes the well-known tales of when Mary heals a bird and a sick girl as well as the renown she gains from her good works at the temple. Aside from these additions to the biblical account of Mary's life, the author creates an interesting perspective of Mary and the girl/woman she might have been. Mayer opens this interpretation with Mary's plea to God for a child from her barren mother, Anna; when the promised child arrives, Anna and Joachim's lives are forever changed and blessed. Young Mary's kindness and wisdom impress all who meet her, astounding even the most learned of temple teachers with her insights. Her eventual betrothal to the elderly widower Joseph foreshadows her part in conceiving and bringing forth the Messiah Jesus. The account of Mary's early life reads fluidly and evenly, and the artistic reproductions from masters such as Rosetti, Giotto, Titian and Barocci contribute to a well-rounded portrayal of this essential personage in Christianity. All ages.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 6-Happily for readers, if unhappily for struggling artists, several recent picture books on myths and religious figures utilize fine-art paintings as illustrations. This very personal vision of the early life of the Virgin is the latest example. Mayer draws on apocryphal material and her own psychological insights as well as Scripture for her account of Mary's conception, birth, education, betrothal, and, finally, the birth of her son. Some touches of the miraculous gild the narrative, but for the most part the author focuses on Mary's qualities of character-in particular, her courage. A note at the end gives sources, but there is no way to sort canonical from noncanonical bits in the story. The illustrations are equally personal choices. From Mark Lancelot Symons's angelic chorus of very realistic 1920's faces featured on the book jacket onward, well-known artists (Lippi, Giotto, Titian, La Tour) accompany those who are lesser known (Salimbeni, Barocci, Ligozzi). Mayer chooses many Baroque, Pre-Raphaelite, and pre-Raphael works over the predictable High Renaissance icons. This is a book for devout, and chiefly Catholic, readers, though others may appreciate its model of a strong young woman, or its lovely reproductions.
Patricia Lothrop-Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (September 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688140610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688140618
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 10.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,791,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Paternoster on November 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though the previous reviewer is right, there is the one line about Our Lady being pale and in pain, the rest of the book is beautifully written and amazing in all ways, taking the oral tradition and written of the church and skillfully weaving a narrative on Our Lady's life that young ones will be sure to remember all their lives.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By maryanntherese on January 9, 2007
Format: Library Binding
I was excited about this book because it is beautifully illustrated with images of the Blessed Mother by masters from throughout the past two millennia. It draws on private revelation by Anne Catherine Emmerich, among others, to fill in some of the details of Mary's childhood. The author also uses her own fictional anecdotes. All of that is fine, as long as it does not contradict revealed doctrine.

However, I was disappointed by the account of Mary and Joseph's arrival at Bethlehem. The text says that Mary was "pale and in pain" as it was time to deliver her baby. This is a heretical assertion which contradicts the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Pain in childbirth is, according to the Bible, the fruits of Adam and Eve's disobedience, Original Sin (see Genesis 3:16). Mary was conceived without the stain of Original Sin, the only human to be so since Adam and Eve. Therefore, she was not subject to pain or any other discomfort of bearing a child. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1911) states it thus:

"...that the supernatural influence of the Holy Ghost extended to the birth of Jesus Christ, not merely preserving Mary's integrity, but also causing Christ's birth or external generation to reflect his eternal birth from the Father in this, that "the Light from Light" proceeded from his mother's womb as a light shed on the world; that the "power of the Most High" passed through the barriers of nature without injuring them; that "the body of the Word" formed by the Holy Ghost penetrated another body after the manner of spirits."

I would not completely discount this book based on the error above. The artwork, as I mentioned, is lovely.
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