cover image The Glorious Impossible

The Glorious Impossible

Madeleine L'Engle. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $24.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-671-68690-1

Illustrated with frescoes by Giotto from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, this lavishly produced picture book about the life of Christ is an interesting combination of coffee-table art book and genial sermon. Expanding upon religious views introduced in earlier books by L'Engle, her impassioned narrative is followed by A. Richard Turner's elegant afterword explaining the historical significance of the paintings. Infrequently acknowledging controversy, L'Engle authoritatively decides thorny theological issues: ``Even for Jesus, the human being, his understanding of his Godness did not come all at once,'' she says, but ``there was a glimmer when he was a boy of twelve and talked with the elders in the Temple.'' L'Engle's tale is frequently layered with advice to the young: ``Sometimes it is very important to have an older friend who is not a parent,'' she says of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Like a parson interpreting Christ's story to her young flock, L'Engle focuses on those aspects of her faith that require belief in the ``Glorious Impossibles that . . . bring joy to our hearts, hope to our lives, songs to our lips.'' Ages 8-up. (Sept.)