Author: Josephine Nobisso
Illustrator: Katalin Szegedi
Publisher: Gingerbread House
Age Range: 5 – 10
The fact that this beautiful picture book is still available nineteen years after its first publication is testament to the fact that it is a very good book indeed. I have read reviews from people who loved this book as children and who are now reading it to their own children. There are so many strengths to this book that it is difficult to know where to start.
Firstly, it is beautifully designed and published. I have a soft cover copy which has flaps at front and back. If you open the front and back cover out flat you see a statue of an Angel holding scales. On one side is the Holy Eucharist and written in Latin under it are the words, “Panis Angelicus” (Bread of Angels). The higher and lighter side of the scales has a loaf of bread with the words, “Per Panern Solum” (my bread alone). The more I explored this wonderful book, the more interesting details I found. What comes to mind is that this book has been ‘crafted’ not simply written and illustrated. Great care and attention has been lavished on its design and presentation.
Now for the story – a simple story (based on a true story) that involves a widow begging for a crust of bread from an exquisitely high class, boutique, bakery. While the beautiful people from high society rush in and out with their pretty boxes of dainty cakes and breads, the poor widow has nothing to offer the baker except a promise to devote her evening Mass to him. Of course, he scoffs and belittles her and tries to show how the words “one Mass” scribbled on a piece of tissue paper have no value whatsoever. But try as he might – the baker cannot get his scales to work properly. No matter how many of the dainty cakes, donuts, pastries and breads he piles onto the other side of the scale – the small piece of tissue paper remains heavier.
Eventually the baker gives up and walks to Mass with the widow and his son. Apparently, that young son grew up to be a priest of some renown (in real life). All in all it is an interesting and engaging story. Young children will need some explanation along the way, but they will enjoy the illustrations and laugh at the baker’s antics.
The illustrations are lively, with interesting details to capture the reader’s attention. The story, illustrations and design all complement each other remarkably well. The author, Josephine Nobisso, has included interesting facts to read which add further interest to the story and illustrations. Many reviewers have said that this is a family favourite, and I can well imagine it would be. It is beautifully Catholic with its focus on the Eucharist and the Mass but entertaining for children and adults alike in its presentation. A very highly recommended addition to your Catholic children’s stories bookshelf!
See The Weight of a Mass on Youtube HERE
You can buy The Weight of a Mass HERE
Homeschool and Teacher Ideas.
If you can get a hold of some old scales, there is a very entertaining science lesson here for young children. In fact you can probably make your own simple version of scales: https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Balance-Scale-for-Kids
From there, a discussion of why the tissue paper weighed more than the baker’s wares would be useful.
- Were the cakes and pastries heavier than the tissue paper?
- Why did the tissue paper weigh more?
- Was it a miracle?
- What is a miracle?
- What was God telling the people in this story? (That there is more value in a single Mass, than in a shopful of baker’s cakes and breads)
Here are some internet links to help talk about the Holy Eucharist: