Noah and the Ark

Noah and the Ark
Pauline Baynes
Holt, 1988

Really? Do we need another Noah’s Ark book? Maybe you don’t. But I’m always looking for books that tell the old stories faithfully – and while I love Peter Spiers’ version, sometimes I don’t really feel up to a wordless book. Pauline Baynes’ version, with its engrossing illustrations and text from the Revised Standard Version, fits those days perfectly.

The most remarkable thing about Noah and the Ark is, of course, the illustrations. You can just sit and pore over them – they’re that engrossing, full of fascinating little details. (Can you find the seasick person on the ark?) The animals are vivid, in motion, wild – and yet willing to be shepherded onto the ark. When they burst out at the end, you can feel the pent-up energy and sheer joy of encountering dry land again. Noah offers a burnt sacrifice, and as his family gives praise to God, it’s unclear which emotion dominates: thanksgiving for deliverance, or the creature’s awed beseeching of the Creator never to undo his work again. When the sign in the heavens comes on the last page, the grace is palpable.

And be warned: this book illustrates the true story. No Noah Problem here. As the waters rise, people cluster on hillocks, pleading with the sky. The animals left behind flee to the treetops in terror. And bodies are floating all around, while the Ark floats impassively nearby. It’s a sober and solemn vision, but it’s the Biblical one. This is a book of true pictures: on the days when I feel up to it, even with the Biblical text, I just might read it as a wordless book.

NB: This book is out of print as well, so the usual advice about buying used, emailing Hearts and Minds, and hitting up the library stands.

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