To be honest, I rarely come across an overtly Christian book that I find beautiful — artistic in both image and text. They are out there, but they are rare finds for me.
John Hendrix’s new book, however, completely turns the tables on the usual. It is gorgeous, inventive, and compelling.
Take a look:
Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus, written and illustrated by John Hendrix published in 2016 by Abrams Books for Young Readers
Hendrix covers the life of Jesus by dropping in on a number of his miracles, concluding with the miracle of the resurrection. He opens his account by describing Jesus as someone whose words “made things happen.”
This is a fantastic framework for Hendrix as an illustrator because of his extraordinary talent in typography. Words frequently dance and explode and rain across his pages, and in this book, those words are the miraculously-powerful words of the Miracle Man himself.
So we have lettering formed out of fish and loaves of bread; out of butterflies; out of Palestinian architecture and flashes of lightning and budding trees. The text itself then, is doubly thought-provoking — for what it says, and for the artistry and symbolism within the lettering.
Hendrix’s page lay-outs and use of color are riveting, and he has struck what seems to me a perfect balance between historical accuracy and child-friendly, approachability. There is nothing heavy or formal about the book, yet it is not cartoonish.
His narrative is purposefully crafted with creative license. As he writes in his Author’s Note, his text “should not be confused with the authority of the actual Biblical accounts.” I felt his straightforward, simplified retellings were well done, never didactic, never drowning us with detail; just enough to capture the essence of the Miracle Man while we absorb tone and atmosphere and character from the artwork.
Included is a thoughtful Author’s Note and references to where these stories can be found in the Bible. For you Orange Marmalade readers of Christian faith, or for those who want to acquaint children with one of the world’s great religious figures, I highly recommend this book. Ages 3 and up.