cover image Noah's Ark

Noah's Ark

Jane Ray. Dutton Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-44653-8

Luminously colored drawings accompany the words of Genesis to tell the story of Noah. In a style that synthesizes many traditions, Ray nods knowingly at the vivacity and naive perspective of folk art; she liberally echoes the ancient Egyptian use of friezes; and she borrows from medieval ornamentation and composition as well. Imaginative, mural-like panels adorn the spaces between text and the lower margins of the pages. Ray's use of color conveys her exuberance and delight: her work looks at once fresh and traditional. The panoply of animal pairs boarding the ark is crafted with great charm; the sturdy vessel rocks upon green waters that are alive with creatures of the sea. When the storm abates, a verdant tapestry of life pours out of the ark to renew the earth. The story of the Flood is interpreted here as an ecological parable, with illustrations stressing the abundance of nature, the sin of fouling it and the joy of its cultivation. A minor but discordant note: one of humanity's misdeeds in those ancient times is depicted as factories spewing smoke into the atmosphere. Overall, though, this is a verbal and visual treat. All ages . (Oct.)