As longtime readers know, I am fascinated by fairy tales, folktales, myths and classic stories. Combine these with great illustrations and quality packaging and I can’t resist.
Award winning illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger’s career seemingly lies at this very intersection. So I am always on lookout for her books when I browse used bookstores or library sales. And I have been able to find some amazing books for just a few dollars.
My first children’s book illustrated by Zwerger was The Selfish Giant which I loved. Since stumbling on that volume I have become more fascinated and enamored with this artist and her work adding more of her books to my collection. Over the next few days I will be sharing my thoughts on these great books
The first book I came across after Selfish Giant was Stories from the Bible a beautiful combination of excerpts from the King James Bible and Zwerger’s illustrations. But as the School Library Journal notes, this is not really a book likely to appeal to children:
These excerpts, taken verbatim from the King James Version of the Bible, are divided into six groups. The Old Testament sections include stories of the Beginning, the Fathers and Mothers of Israel, the Deliverance out of Egypt, King David, Psalms, and the words of the Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. The New Testament sections are the birth of Jesus and the beginning of His works, Jesus’s words about His mission, experiences with Jesus, the message of Jesus, the Passion and Resurrection, and “Unto the Ends of the World” (Acts and Revelations). Coverage of Genesis, Exodus, and Jesus’s life and teachings is passable, although there are substantial gaps. The other selections are very limited. The work is imaginatively illustrated with occasional full-page paintings, usually but not always associated with the accompanying text, and a number of decorative vignettes. Often they have an almost surreal quality. In the scene of Moses in the bulrushes, Pharaoh’s daughter watches from a distant riverbank and is accompanied by jackal- and falcon-headed Egyptian gods. The principals may be dressed in modern clothing or carrying suitcases. Colors are muted and the artistic styles vary from meticulously detailed to abstract. The perspectives are sometimes dramatically skewed. With its use of the elevated King James language, its very selective choice of material, and its sophisticated paintings (some illustrations are not readily comprehensible), this title is more a coffee-table art book than a collection of Bible stories for youngsters. There are many anthologies available with friendlier language and more accessible pictures for children.
I agree that the book is more coffee table art book than children’s Bible, but that within that framework it is a beautiful book. And this doesn’t mean you can’t read it with you children.