Gr 4-8-- These selected, retold narratives compete with Catherine Marshall's Story Bible (Revell, 1985) and Bible Stories from the Old Testament (Grosset, 1987), but the fresh illustrations may give this volume an edge. Chaikin's adaptations are faithful and readable. She does well at editing down to essentials, and has chosen passages central to ``the'' story of God's people. There is a dearth of admirable women, but, in addition to the Patriarchs, Balaam, Samuel, Jonah, Job, and Daniel make interesting characters. While the text is adequate, it lacks the depth of ``actual words'' editions (Augsburg Story Bible Augsburg, 1992) or the literary verve of Moses' Ark (Delacorte, 1989) or City of Gold (Houghton, 1992). Delicately pretty colored-pencil drawings run about one per story. Gilbert pays particular attention to costume, with elaborate and richly detailed dress, ornaments, and accessories. These fancy-dress tableaux and decorative borders are inviting. Two of the illustrations have mildly erotic overtones. While the naked Eve's breasts are concealed by her loose hair, and a berry-filled leaf covers her lap, the positioning of an ibex, nuzzling the berries, and of Adam, reaching around her, suggests a sexual reading of the Fall. Secondly, Gilbert chooses to portray aged Sarah offering her white-haired husband Abraham a nubile, bare-shouldered Hagar, who smiles enigmatically. Nothing else about the book seems to target YA readers. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle
ger for reading aloud. One of the handsomest collections of Bible stories to come along in a while, this features 26 stories from the Old Testament (Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, the Tower of Babel, etc.) that are made readily accessible to young readers and listeners, thanks to Chaikin's clear, uncluttered text. Illustrating the tales are Gilbert's dramatic color-pencil artwork; some of the pictures are so beautiful it's hard to tear your eyes away. But though opulent in color, design, and patterning, these pictures are more than pretty. Gilbert has instinctively chosen scenes that touch all aspects of our humanity: Isaac giving his blessing to the wrong son, while Rebekah peeps around the tent; Ruth with her head on Naomi's knee, telling her mother-in-law she will not leave her; Sheba presenting a trinket to Solomon, while, with one finger, he caresses her hair. Special care has been taken with the book's design, which offers flower- and figure-decorated margins, thick paper, and a handsome typeface. A wonderful piece of bookmaking worthy of the stories it holds.