A Gift for Matthew, written by Nick Muzekari and illustrated by Masha Lobastov (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2015) is a timeless story of iconography. A boy named Mathew spends the day at a monastery with a gentle monk who teaches him the slow techniques of mixing pigments and carefully, prayerfully writing icons.
I’m a little bit jealous. Reading the book makes me wish there was a nearby monastery where my kids could spend a day way from this crazy fast technology driven world and enter a spiritual realm of peaceful, holy art for a day. But there isn’t something like that near here and probably not near you either, so instead we can tag along with Mathew on his special day and vicariously be quiet, prayerfully focused, and see the ancient practice of icon writing come to life.
A Gift for Mathew is aimed at upper elementary school aged children, but has a broader appeal due to the depth of its content and illustrations. Sunday school teachers could use it as part of a series of lessons on iconography and church bookstore managers can recommend it as a gift, paired with an icon of the child’s saint or guardian angel.