Lisbeth Zwerger, . . North-South/ Neugebauer, $19.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-7358-1413-4

Best shared between adults and children, this stimulating presentation of major stories from the Bible will startle readers into fresh insights and appreciations. Internationally renowned for her elegant, somewhat intellectual style, Zwerger here offers subtle visual accompaniment for extracts from the King James Bible. Where most Bibles offer heavy ornamentation, this airy oversize version points up the virtues of understatement. A single vignette conveys Pharaoh's decadence: as he mocks Aaron and Moses for wanting to let the Israelites "rest from their burdens," Zwerger shows him posing idly, holding a pet leopard by a leash. The artist lets individual images suggest defining moments: an elaborate trumpet stands in for the giving of the Ten Commandments; a wine bottle and 13 glasses evoke the Last Supper. In her full-page compositions, Zwerger sometimes summons tradition (e.g., a Sistine Chapel–like hand of God conjures the beasts of Creation), but more often her approach is personal. The Wise Men, dressed in clerical garb, kneel before a modern-dress Mary as she holds her baby; she stands in a bare room, a cherub hovering over her head, a few suitcases in the foreground, a white sheep nestled against a white wall. Tthe New Jerusalem is an open window in the sky. Rather than illustrating sacred episodes, these immaculately executed works prompt readers inward, to achieve their own visions. Ages 5-10. (Mar.)