Jerry Pinkney's Noah's Ark
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
The final flood
Like any artist adapting only part of a larger work, author-illustrator Jerry Pinkney knows it's important to provide context for the smaller story.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Living things ran on the earth and flew in the skies, and swam in the seas. And God saw that it was good.
This gorgeous two page spread sample of Pinkney's signature watercolor and colored pencil work features a whale, some sharks, a wooly mammoth and an, ahem, dinosaur...but no humans.
That's because he's no dummy. He isn't going to state outright whether he takes the Old Testament story of Noah's ark as parable or historical fact. He's just going to tell an age-old story in a way that young ones can relate to it and even take comfort from it. (Remember: God promises not to do this flood thing again!)
Kids love nature and animals, and that's where Pinkney keeps the visual focus. There are tons of animals to identify and enjoy. And while God tells Noah, "Bring two of every creature on the ark," he also "call[ed] to the animals, and from aardvark to zebra they came."
Note to authors...
There's certainly a story that could be written from the point of view of a couple animals being called. In fact, if you think about it, that's exactly what's happening in Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with Richard Dreyfus as one of the animals!
No, that "Aardvark to Zebra" phraseology isn't in your bible. Pinkney understands that picture books work best with picture book language, and he knows how to write it, while still being faithful to the story.
He also knows that kids are capable of thinking about consequences unstated. That's why he gives us a two page underwater spread to accompany this fresh text:
The water rose over cities and towns.
Whales swam down ruined streets.
Schools of fish darted through empty windows.
In short, Jerry Pinkney's Noah's Ark is built to enthrall without being unfaithful to the original.
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