Top critical review
Save your money - there are way better books about saints out there!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 11, 2019
Some people love this series, but I was really disappointed with it. If you care about historical accuracy and find anachronisms bothersome, this series is not for you. St. Anne, for instance, is depicted as "making sugar cookies for all the kids in the neighborhood". The depiction of Martha and Mary describes Martha getting annoyed with Mary for "letting the spaghetti boil over". No. First-century Jews did not eat pasta or sugar. They might have had occasional access to wild honey, but they did not have sugar. I understand that the intent of the author was to bring to life stories of saints that are often reduced to dry-as-dust dates, facts, and unfamiliar names, but this series takes far too many creative liberties and invents details and anecdotes out of thin air. I appreciate what the author was trying to do, and the illustrations are lovely, but I really wish I hadn't wasted my money on this series. I bought all three books and ended up reading only bits and pieces of most of the stories to my kids because I didn't feel comfortable with the level of embellishment. There are much better children's books on saints such as the "Along the Paths of the Gospel" series by Pauline Press. They are out of print but you can get them used online. The "Vision" series published by Ignatius Press is also excellent and does an incredible job of bringing the stories to life without embellishing or employing anachronisms.
Some of the stories in the "Once Upon a Time Saints" series also contain inappropriate or gruesome anecdotes that I skipped over. The story of St. Nicholas, for example, tells of the time he received knowledge from God that a shopkeeper had kidnapped some little boys, cut up their bodies and put them into a barrel of brine, planning to eat them at a later date. St. Nicholas confronted the shopkeeper, rescued the boys, and raised them back to life. This story is indeed part of the lore of St. Nicholas, but it isn't a story that I feel is appropriate for young children. The stories of St. Christopher and Moses the Black also contained an unnecessary level of detail into their sordid pasts.
Save your money...there are way better saint books for children out there than this series!