Wednesday 20 January 2021

Saint Nicholas The Wonderworker - Andrew Votipka - Mr. Baker’s Book Series Book 2

Saint Nicholas: 
The Wonderworker
Mr. Baker’s Book Series Book 2
Andrew Votipka
ISBN 9798574685655

This was a wonderful follow up book in the Mr. Baker’s Book Series, but nor the book I was expecting. I was expecting a volume on Aloysius Gonzaga. And hope we still get that one soon. But even with it being on an unexpected saint, this was a wonderful volume. I could hardly put it down. I loved the first book in this series on Abba Moses, in part because he is a much less known saint. But this one is an excellent read. For readers of all ages. I stated before that in some ways this story reminded me of the Chime Travelers series by Lisa M. Hendey but geared for an older audience. And in some other ways it reminded me of the Douglings Adventures by Carissa Douglas. Fans of both of those series will love this book. Though this is geared more for an older reader, late middle grade, tweens or teens. 

The description of this volume is:

“Book two in the Mr. Baker's Book series is out! Class is back in session. Well, not really. In fact, Mr. Baker's class is off for a Christmas break, but that won't stop everyone's favorite time travelling eleven-year-old from breaking into the church, finding Mr. Baker's book, and going off on an adventure all by himself! What could go wrong? A trip to an ancient Mediterranean maritime town with a beautiful beach doesn't sound so bad, if you're fine with tyrannical Roman emperors, graveyards, and sinking boats. Join Theo as he meets a few characters from the Bible, avoids manual labor, assists in shaping world history, and befriends one of the most famous of all the saints. A man so well loved, his name alone brings smiles to the faces of children and adults the world over. Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.”

In this one instead of the trio travelling through time, it is just Theo, and he travels to many times and places. But All in relation to Nicholas of Myra. 

The chapters in the story are:

1. A Ship at Sea
2. Finding the Book
3. Patara
4. An Unexpected Meeting
5. The Young Boy
6. A Surprising Guest
7. Pursuit
8. Mystery Solved
9. A Gathering
10. The Young Bishop
11. A Miracle on the Waters
12. Land
13. Innocents Abroad
14. Eustathios
15. In the Nick of Time
16. The Closet
17. A Christmas to Remember
A Historical Note
Saint Nicholas Traditions

The author in the preface to book one stated that:

“I’ve imagined this book as a family read aloud. The reader may feel free to add, edit, delete, and supplement. You can make the Egyptians sound like British villains or Irish leprechauns (those are my personal go-tos). You can talk about the differences between a cenobitic and an eremitic monk if you happen to know the difference. You can buy a prayer rope and teach your kids how to use it. Be creative!”

And yet this volume has no preface to set it up. Maybe that is because he expects all readers to have familiarity with Saint Nicholas, and depending on where they live and their heritage a variety of traditions around him and his feast day or Christmas directly. In the Historical Note at the end of the volume Andrew states:

“There once was a bishop of Myra named Nicholas. He lived between the end of the third and beginning of the fourth centuries, and he attended the Council of Nicaea. That is the entire historically reliable biography of jolly old Saint Nick. Ho, ho, ho. 

To make the historical record even more complicated, in the sixth century there was another man who would also become a Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas of Sion. He took the name Nicholas in honor of the bishop of Myra (which tells us something about our Saint Nicholas’s popularity in the early church), and this Nicholas of Sion even made a trip to visit the tomb of his namesake. For many centuries, their legends were intertwined, and it wasn’t until fairly recently that serious scholarship was able to untangle the threads.”

Now having a Religious Studies Degree with a focus on Roman Catholic Thoughts I am well versed with the two Nicholas’s even if you omit the slap to the face. And yet it was fascinating to read this volume. 

This book really does bring to life the life and times of Saint Nicholas and by hopping around it time, we encounter the man at many different points in his life. 

This is a great story to read or to be read aloud. It helps bring part of the long history of Christianity to life and bring awareness to a younger generation. Pick it up and give it a try and join the three youngster as he get transported back and experience this early saint in a fascinating and fun way first hand.

This book was a wonderful read in what is shaping up to be an excellent series. I greatly enjoyed it, and am rereading in with my son while he is in the hospital and plan to read it again with my youngest daughter once back home. I will pick up any future offering in this series. This book brought to life this Saint Nicholas in a wonderful new way. I highly recommend this volume.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Andrew Votipka:
Mr. Baker’s Book Series
Aloysius Gonzaga

No comments: