Mary Hoffman, Jackie Morris, , illus. by Jackie Morris. . Penguin Putnam/Fogelman, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2842-4

The accomplished author-illustrator team behind Parables and Miracles helps young readers enter the Old Testament via thematically linked, age-appropriate stories, this time focusing on a topic popular among children—animals. Fittingly, the book begins with Creation, as God puts all the animals into Adam and Eve's care and charges Adam with naming all creatures. With the same easy tone that has distinguished her previous works, Hoffman invites readers to envision the magnitude of Adam's task: "Can you imagine what an important job that was? Imagine seeing for the first time a tiger, a kangaroo... and a toucan, and having to come up with the right names for them." The retellings inform, entertain and create a sense of immediacy ("It was very crowded inside the ark. The big animals sometimes sat on the little ones by mistake, and the ones who had horns kept poking the ones who didn't"). Animals play only supporting roles in many narratives (e.g., Daniel in the Lions' Den, Jonah and the Whale) but they invariably take pride of place in Morris's rhythmically paced watercolors, which variously occupy side panels, three-fifths spreads or combinations of the two. While her portraits of human figures are generally sympathetic, the artist truly excels in her depictions of birds, beasts and sea creatures—they are realistic yet endowed with unmistakable grandeur. An endnote includes Hoffman's comments on her interpretations and cites the biblical sources, thus broadening the opportunities for family sharing. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)