cover image God's Story: How He Made Mankind

God's Story: How He Made Mankind

Jan Mark. Candlewick Press (MA), $17.99 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0376-2

Like Chaikin's Clouds of Glory (reviewed above) Mark has collected here a group of Midrash stories that answer such questions raised, but unanswered by, the scriptures. Why, for example, did God accept Abel's sacrifice but not Cain's? Or, why did God command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved son? Mark bases her retellings of 12 familiar stories on the Midrash Rabbah. Mark's collection opens with the story of Creation and ends with the story of the restoration of Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile. Each of the stories depicts God's presence with His people, in spite of their tendency not to follow always in God's ways. One of the more interesting stories in the collection involves the fall of the rebellious angel, Samael, from heaven. When God decides to create man and woman, all of the angels question God's decision, ""What need is there for man and woman? No good will come of it."" But, God creates them, and the angels must bow down to the couple. Samael refuses and is cast out of heaven, and he ""dropped like a falling star from heaven, and evil came down to earth with him."" Illustrations decorate nearly every page and range from stark ink drawings and charcoal sketches to more colorful watercolors. While the illustrations of animals come across as lifelike, the human figures are often lifeless. Still, Mark's book offers new insights into old stories. Ages 12-16. (Feb.)