Sunday, January 16, 2011

Animals of the Bible, by Helen Dean Fish

Children have an uncanny ability to receive pictures into their minds, linked with a certain phrase, word, or text, and retain that picture well through their adult life. Teachers, parents, and illustrators must recognize this immense power, and few do so better than Dorothy Lathrop. In this short picture book, she brings a quiet, and yet very living portrayal of the popular stories of the Old and New Testaments. These black and white pictures provide images of the stories of the Bible that include animals, where the animals are portrayed with as much dignity as the humans.

I was stunned at the grace, power, and gravity that these pictures hold, while also retaining a memorable simplicity. Eve, with her hair flowing over her body, is as poised and beautiful as the dove in Noah and the Ark. The simplicity of the manger is portrayed with as much common sense, gravity, simplicity, and beauty as the depiction of the leopard and the lamb, and the lion and the child in the Kingdom to Come. One does not see personification in the animals, but does see the realism within the stories simply because the animals are present. I admit, I wish there had been more color in the illustrations, simply because the colors in the cover are very intriguing and welcoming.

I also really enjoyed the Old King James text. As a Christian from a conservative background, the King James Text is still the translation I recite from memory, and it’s the text that brings me the most comfort as an adult. I still have pictures in my mind that are permanently linked to King James, and I can certainly see these pictures providing the same link for children in the future.

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