cover image Young Jesus of Nazareth

Young Jesus of Nazareth

Marianna Mayer. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16727-1

Beautiful reproductions of some of Europe's finest sacred art complement Mayer's (Young Mary of Nazareth) mellifluous account of Jesus' childhood. Blending accounts from Matthew and Luke with stories from the apocrypha and other religious writings, Mayer presents a fully dimensional extended portrait of the Holy Family. Joseph and Mary, devoted parents as well as servants of God, appreciate that raising such an extraordinary child will be the biggest challenge of their lives. Here, Jesus is a sort of man-child who calmly balances his very human familial role with a divine calling--a dichotomy that often baffles his teachers. For example, when a priest tells the five-year-old Jesus that he shouldn't be modeling clay sparrows on the Sabbath, Jesus claps his hands and the clay birds come alive and fly off. Readers will be fascinated as Jesus begins to perform miracles and understand his holy power. Mayer's talents as a storyteller allow her to offer an exploration of a religious figure that is both accessible and resonant, and her thoughtful delivery affords a new perspective on the Sermon on the Mount, which concludes the text. Young readers will especially appreciate her ability to project a sense of Jesus' childhood personality, an element absent from the Gospels. And, elegantly produced with Bible-like illuminations in gold, this volume is as enjoyable to look at as it is to read. All ages. (Oct.)