We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2017 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.
I am glad to find this beautiful picturebook published in 2016 that depict Jesus’ life. While I have read quite a number of picturebook biographies that celebrate the lives of peacekeepers and religious icons, this is the first one I have come across that portrays Jesus of Nazareth’s life so beautifully.
Miracle Man: The Story Of Jesus
Written and Illustrated by: John Hendrix
Published by: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2016
ISBN: 1419718991 (ISBN13: 9781419718991)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
This is my first John Hendrix book, and I have been instantly turned into a fan. You see, I was born and raised a Catholic girl, and have attended a Catholic School the whole of my primary and secondary years run by nuns (almost akin to a convent school, really). Hence, I am familiar with all of the stories that are illuminated in such a fearless, bold, and oh-so-thoughtful fashion by Hendrix in this beautiful picturebook.
The first few pages indicated that Hendrix wanted to introduce something different into the visual narrative, with the typography bleeding into the next page, and the text itself infused seamlessly into the illustrations (see below):
There are also little things that can be gleaned from the art – see Jesus’ footsteps where flowers blossom in the image above. While a few may find the art to be over-the-top with such stark letterings, I found it compelling and downright moving in its capacity to evoke the whole idea of word becomes flesh, or the magnificence and glory of Christ’s love and goodness.
What I especially liked though is the representation of Jesus himself, that is glaringly different from Western depiction of him and his appearance. As seen in the Author’s Note found at the end of the book:
Creating an illustrated book about the life of Christ is both a frightening challenge and a dream come true. As with all stories that have been told many, many times before, it is hard to avoid the familiar, well-worn paths. This is a particular challenge when visually depicting Jesus himself. In this book, I have aspired to render him as a man of his time and place and not as a construction of western idealism.
I also feel that Hendrix has done a wonderful job in capturing the essence of the Man that Jesus had been, and the Divinity within Him that allowed people to drop their oars and follow him, as He went about changing the lives of everyone He met when He lived among us. Clearly, this is one book that I would have treasured lovingly as a young girl – and a great primer as well to those who are unfamiliar with Jesus’ story.