I never tire of hearing the creation story. How exuberant life must have been then, as the world burst into being, perfect and new—a place where moments might be savored without the bitter knowledge that they would not last, and work was done with delight. That world slips away from us after the third chapter of the Bible, but those first three chapters hint at what might have been.
Picture books are a lovely medium for capturing that exuberance and joy. I have come across many that capture it well—in fact, I have drafted posts of two others for you, but each one has been replaced by a version I liked better than the last, until I finally came across Norman Messenger’s The Creation Story and realized that it just couldn’t get much better than this. Norman Messenger captures the the newborn world in illustrations that manage to look as thought they’ve burst onto the page, despite the fact that they must have taken a long time and a lot of patience to complete (colored pencil is not a medium for the impatient).
The illustrations alone make this a book that the littlest readers can enjoy—it is fun to examine the detailed drawings of plants and animals and admire the depth and creativity of God’s work with them, as Messenger skillfully piles the images on top of one another, creating a picture that ought to feel crowded but instead feels exciting and new every time we read the book.
Messenger tells the story itself through passages pulled from the New Living Translation which, though not usually my translation of choice, works well here because the story moves along swiftly without the hindrance of the dated (though lovely) language of the King James used in many of the other versions I’ve read, gaining momentum before dropping smoothly into that seventh day of rest. How refreshing it is to end on that day of rest and to forget for a moment what came after it!
The Creation Story
Norman Messenger (2009)