Skip to main content

Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm of Canterbury by Simonetta Carr

This new children’s book written by Simonetta Carr on Anselm of Canterbury is a fascinating and enriching book combined with stunning illustrations done by Matt Abraxas.  Many readers will know of Simonetta Carr in her other books in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers (John Calvin, John Owen, Augustine, Lady Jane Grey, and Athanasius).  She is an astute writer, investing much in the details of Anselm’s life, both biographically and theologically.  What shines through in the book is the heart of a man 

Early on in the book, we find Anselm debating in his mind and heart about whether he should pursue the life of a monk.  His father was unwilling to give his blessing for Anselm to join a monastery.  Soon after his father died, Anselm thought very hard about becoming a monk (14-15).  After taking the plunge to become a monk, Carr writes, “As a monk, Anselm devoted all his heart to the study of God’s Word, prayer, and his daily duties, which often included editing books, making sure they were correct” (16).  Anselm’s fervent devotion to study, prayer, and caring for his fellow man was central to his ministry as a monk, archbishop, and leader in the church.  With the rise of Anselm’s station in the church, others began to become angry and critical of him, yet Anselm responded with kindness. 

While many people know that Anselm penned his famous work, Cur Deus Homo (Why God-Man?) about the reason for Christ becoming man and providing a satisfaction for the weight of the sin of mankind, what was very illuminating was the occasion of this writing.  Carr writes, “For some time, other monks had been asking him to write an answer to a question that was puzzling many people:…If God can do anything, couldn’t He have saved His people some other way” (42)?  This shameful death of the Son of God was unthinkable for some.  What was so amazing here is that these questions were put to the monks by regular people coming to church each week.  Therefore, Anselm’s clear understanding and detailing of Christ’s coming to the world and his death was as much a pastoral word of comfort and encouragement as it was a theological one.  In other words, the heart of theological matters in the church often come from everyday people dealing with issues of life and reflecting on those issues.  Furthermore, the very format of the book in which Anselm carries on a conversation with another monk named Boso gives the impression of a dialogue one would have with a friend.

This book was a superb introduction for young students concerning the life and teachings of Anselm of Canterbury.  I learned a lot too as someone not recognizing the extreme discord that was taking place with both the church and England at the time.  The illustrations were also very beautiful, taking the world of a medieval monk and his travels and opening up the scenery that surrounded him. 

I recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about Anselm and even those wanting to pass along to their children a biography of the one of the great church fathers.

Thanks to Reformations Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews for the free copy of this book in exchange for review.


  1. Thank you for this very thoughtful review! The occasions that moved some of the famous theologians of the past to formulate what are now basic doctrines of the Christian faith are very interesting and, as you mentioned, usually motivated by pastoral concerns. I think it's important for children to understand that our Christian doctrines were not written in a vacuum by lofty men buried in books, but in the context of everyday life, among daily struggles. Thank you for pointing it out!

  2. Spencer,

    Thanks for contributing to the blog tour. The Christian Biographies for Young Readers series is a favorite at our house. ;-) I'm so glad you enjoyed the book.

    Shaun Tabatt
    Cross Focused Reviews


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …