cover image The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles

Marianna Mayer. Dial Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2533-1

HIn this illuminating picture-book reference, Mayer shines the spotlight on the 12 specially chosen associates of Jesus, using the same warm storytelling voice and elegant design that distinguished her Young Jesus of Nazareth and Young Mary of Nazareth. Drawing on the Gospels as well as apocrypha and legend, Mayer serves up brief individual profiles, so that each man appears distinct, with his own traits, background and contributions. Readers will appreciate the concise explanations of the relationships among the apostles and how each was selected by Jesus to assist in spreading his teachings. Also enlightening is the inclusion of the apostle's feast day and the symbols with which he is most often associated. However, there are slight inconsistencies in the structure. The design affords each apostle his own spread (Judas and his replacement share theirs), their names in gold ink headersDimplying that each entry can stand alone, like those in an encyclopedia. In some cases the profiles are complete in and of themselves (for example, both the passage for James the Elder and the adjacent entry on John the Evangelist mention that the two are brothers). Details in other profiles are clarified only in a subsequent spread (the entry on Peter refers to the location of Peter and Andrew's house, but does not explain that they are brothers and that the house is in Galilee).The striking presentation pairs the biographical text with inset art, then faces both with a full-page portrait; as in Mayer's other Bible-inspired works, the illustrations consist of reproductions of European paintings. The choices render the disciples as very real and very human, and place them within a venerable Western tradition. All ages. (Sept.)