A few days ago, I received a copy of The Life of Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildare by Jane G. Meyer to review. I am embarrassed to admit I knew nothing of Saint Brigid's life until I read the book. When the package arrived, I ripped it open and devoured the book right then and there (the children were napping or else I would have read it to them, too!). I loved reading about this saint and am so glad to know more about her!
One of the best things about this book is the content. Though the book is written in easy to understand prose, it is chock full of wonderful information about the saint. The book is clearly meant for children, but I believe that this is a book that every adult should own as well.
The illustrations for The Life of Saint Brigid are beautiful Celtic style paintings. I thought that it added so much to have the traditional style of artwork used to depict scenes from Saint Brigid's life. I really liked the icons that the illustrator, Zachary Lynch, painted alongside the Celtic knot work designs and illustrations of the saint's life throughout the book.
This children's book was written for little ones aged four and up. Our eldest child is three and while this book went a bit over her head, she did get something from it. She loved the part of the book that discussed Saint Brigid's pantry being blessed by God so that she could give food away to the poor. In addition, she was quite interested in the concept of becoming a nun - something I genuinely thought was beyond her comprehension. She was very drawn to one of the illustrations of Saint Brigid after she had become a nun and was dressed in white (I think because it reminded her of an icon we have of Saint Elisabeth the New Martyr).
A hard concept for Sugar Plum to understand was the fact that many of the illustrations showed the people and animals with expressions that she described as "sad" or "angry." The style of Celtic art is to use teardrop shaped eyes which often create that sad or angry look in the pictures. I believe that this was tricky for our daughter to understand because she often uses the pictures to help her understand what is going on in the story and the way things looked didn't mesh with the words that I was reading to her. I truly feel that we had difficulty with this because Sugar Plum is only three and the book is meant for slightly older children who would be better able to understand the differences in artistic style.
I really loved this book and am so happy that we have a copy for our collection of Orthodox children's books! I am very thankful that I now know about this wonderful saint and plan on finding an icon of her to hang in our kitchen next to one of Saint Euphrosynos the Cook. The life of Saint Brigid offers so much encouragement to us all! I hope that you will read and enjoy this book as much as we did!