The beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., or a simple country church attract those who enter, introducing them to the grandeur of God. Stefan Salinas’s book, “Catholic Churches Big and Small” (Camelopardalis, $15.29), introduces even the youngest child to the varied beauty of Catholic parishes with illustrations that will delight the oldest reader. Two children and their father are taken on a tour by a nun, where they see both very traditional churches with elaborate décor and modern, minimalist churches. Through the diversity of the churches they encounter, they are taught, along with the reader, about the common elements of all churches. In straightforward language, the basic fl oor plan of a church and its furnishings are shown, from the rose windows, baptistery and bell towers, to the holy water font, paschal candle and tabernacle. Salinas’s lovely illustrations capture both the immense beauty of the whole and the charming details. Features such as chandeliers, Stations of the Cross and the ambry are emphasized; these details may prompt the older child to question the purpose of each object and to locate the objects in his own parish church. Images and sculptures of holy men and women, unique to particular churches, also are displayed. Salinas recreates tile mosaics, banners and tapestries of biblical and historical scenes. These images include a sculpture of Jesus carrying loaves and fi shes, a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a stained glass window of the wedding at Cana. Each drawing is from the Diocese of San Francisco, which consists of an array of churches — big and small, Gothic and missionary, traditional and modern. Through the variety and range of the churches Salinas presents, the variation within the church is displayed; the common elements in all churches point to the universality of the faith. Through the illustrations, the child encounters both the diversity and unity of the Catholic Church. The nearly 50 pages may intimidate some parents, but the pictures will prove captivating for a 3-year-old. The precise, plain language makes the simple story accessible to the young child, while allowing for the illustrations to remain central. The unique introduction to churches is highly recommended for elementary-age children.
Anamaría Scaperlanda Biddick is a freelance writer for the Sooner Catholic.