A number of years ago I did something different for my evening sermon. It was the week before Christmas and instead of preaching through the next verses of whatever book I was in, I wrote a story. I read the sermon that Sunday night like I was reading to my kids. I told them to imagine it was Christmas Eve and they were nestled in front of the fireplace listening to the good news about the baby Jesus. I did my best to make that sermon a beautiful story about the Greatest Story ever told.
I didn’t have any pictures.
It was a dream of mine that someday the story would find its way in a book and find itself decorated with stunning illustrations. To tell you the truth, the reality is better than the dream.
Normally, when I have a new book coming out I try to be pretty nonchalant about it: “Here’s the book. Here’s the information. Here’s how you can get it if you’re interested. Talk to you later.” But I feel like I can be a bit more unguarded with this book, because it’s not just my book. I could not be more pleased with the job Don Clark did illustrating The Biggest Story. The process was longer than you might think. First, Crossway asked me write a bit more and give the rest of the biblical storyline after Christmas. Good idea. Then we massaged the words and made new edits. And then some more. Up until the last minute. When you write a children’s book you don’t use many words, so you feel much more of the weight of getting them right.
Along the way, I worked with Crossway to find the right illustrator. The folks at Crossway were fantastic, always patient, always creative, always coming up with new options. I had in my mind an idea of what I wanted the book to look like, and more than that I had a good sense of what I didn’t want the book to look like. So we kept looking and looking. Eventually we came to Don. Amazing. His illustrations are bright and captivating for a child, yet full of theological care and artistic sophistication for an adult to enjoy.
Take a look at a few sample pages below. The colors are vibrant without being gawdy. The people look like ancient people–not so abstract as to be unrecognizable, and not so cartoonish as to look silly. My favorite illustration may be the greenish-gray one with the tiny grace-soaked ark floating in an angry flood of God’s wrath. I’d hang that one up on the wall just as a conversation piece. Even the chapter title pages are exquisite. If you look carefully through the whole book, you’ll pick up on a number of recurring themes and images. You may also notice that the face of Christ is not depicted (except a few eyeballs as a baby). This is owing both to Presbyterian convictions and to an aesthetic sense that the story is told more powerfully, more dramatically, and more effectively when the artist depicts God in evocative images (ala Revelation) rather than in a concrete rendering.
It really is a tremendous book, not because of me but because of Don’s great work and because of the effort from a lot of folks at Crossway. I already gave away my one copy, so I can’t wait to get my hands on some more. WTS Books is running a special sale on the book today and tomorrow. You may also pre-order a copy from Amazon.
Finally, check out the promo video below. I had nothing to do with it, which is probably why it is so cool.