It was a week of epic proportions here in Duluth with a once every 500 year rainfall. You’d think a city on a hill wouldn’t flood, but with 43 streams and creeks, all rushing over hard bedrock, well, I guess 10 inches of rain in 24 hours was too much. We were pretty soggy even ahead of this deluge.
Only 111 households in Duluth had flood insurance. We just didn’t think it could happen here, which made me think of the most famous of flood stories, Noah’s Ark. They didn’t think it could happen to them either. Noah’s Ark seems to be one of those tales that lends itself to endlessly inventive interpretations. From the majestic to the humorous, here’s an ark full of terrific Noah and the Flood stories.
Peter Spier’s Noah’s Ark is an almost wordless picture book, which won the 1976 Caldecott medal as well as a host of other awards. Peter Spier uses his own translation of a seventeenth-century Dutch poem about this famous menagerie.
In On Noah’s Ark Jan Brett retells of the story from the perspective of Noah’s granddaughter. It’s an effective point of view and as always with Brett’s work, the detailed artwork becomes the main attraction.
Jerry Pinkney’s Noah’s Ark won a Caldecott Honor medal in 2002. The writing is straightforward with only minor variations from Genesis. The illustrations, however, tell additional stories showing scenes of sea creatures that swim over drowned cities while the ark floats above. It’s a lovely book and the illustrations make you marvel at the wonder of the natural world.
Noah’s Ark by Heinz Janisch is illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerger. It opens intriguingly, “It came to pass in the days when giants strode the earth and were heroes among men, God saw that His people had grown wicked. They thought only of war and destruction. And God was angry.” After that the text is minimal, just enough to showcase Zwerger’s art, but if you’re a fan, you’re in for a treat.
In Why Noah Chose the Dove by Isaac Bashevis Singer and illustrated by Eric Carle the different animals praise their own special qualities so that each will be assured a place on Noah’s Ark. Of course, all are taken on board, but because the dove is the only one that did not boast, Noah makes the bird his messenger.
We’re All in the Same Boat by Zachary R. Shapiro and Jack E. Davis is more of an alphabet book than a Noah’s Ark story. Shapiro uses the premise of the Ark and the huge menagerie of animals to create a funny alphabet book with a gentle message about cooperation. Davis’s hilarious illustrations of the facial expressions and actions of the various animals add to the liveliness and humor.
Fox Walked Alone by Barbara Reid is told for very young readers. Fox notices that different animals are passing him by, two by two. He, and the reader, finally realizes that Noah is welcoming them all to the ark. The story ends as the rain begins to fall. Reid’s illustrations, created from Plasticine clay are filled with intricate detail. The rhymed text is simple enough for a beginning reader but really, it just really made me want to create things with clay!
Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and illustrated by Holly Meade is a lovely story about how for forty days and forty nights, Naamah, Noah’s wife, sings everyone to sleep. The lilting text is as comforting as a lullaby and Meade’s watercolor collage match the text perfectly.
Noah’s Bark by Stephen Krensky is, as the title suggests, a funny story about the sounds that animals make. The cacophony on the ark leads the ingenious Noah to devise a system where each animal gets to randomly choose his new and permanent sound and order is restored.
And now I’m heading across the ocean, not in an ark but a plane, to visit my homeland. I’ll be taking a little summer break from my posts, but will be back, full force in August! Meanwhile, stay cool and get flood insurance.
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