peter spier’s the book of jonah…back in print
April 7, 2015 by orangemarmaladebooks
The Book of Jonah, retold and illustrated by Peter Spier
originally published in 1985; reissued by Doubleday Books for Young Readers in 2015
Thanks to the folks at Doubleday, a number of Peter Spier’s masterpieces have been reissued lately, and in January of this year, a gorgeous, hardcover edition of The Book of Jonah was released. This is wonderful news.
Peter Spier’s work is beautiful, meticulous, intelligent, marvelously creative, coursing with warmth and hope. That’s true of all his work.
And we see it so clearly in his account of the prophet Jonah.
A number of his books are wordless, including his Noah’s Ark, but Jonah’s story is told clearly and thoroughly in Spier’s paraphrase of the Biblical narrative. It’s an excellent rendition.
But of course, his brilliance truly shines in his illustrations, which open a fascinating window onto the ancient world of Israel and Assyria. The landscapes, pottery, technology, and shipyards enable us to properly envision the setting for this story. The authentic architecture, splendor, and art forms of the mighty city of Ninevah, inform us about that culture. Spier even illustrates the story with a “great fish” that is pointedly different from the whale that pops up in so many accounts. And all of this is done with such a blast of color and such thoughtful imagination, that children as young as 2 or 3 will be engrossed.
Additionally, six pages of illustrated end notes are included which tell much more about the history of Jonah, the Assyrian empire, the geography of Jonah’s account, the further history of Ninevah itself, and the archaeological digs which brought it to light after centuries of obscurity. The book is so up-to-date that it even comments on the destruction of Jonah’s tomb by terrorists in July of 2014. Included in these notes are Spier’s maps, ship diagrams, notes about cuneiform writing discovered in these ruins, and more. It’s a fascinating addendum to the book.
As you can tell, the whole package makes it an outstanding choice for children aged two, on up through their grandparents. My images here do not do it justice. Check it out for yourself.