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Animals of the Bible by Helen Dean Fish

Animals of the Bible (1937)

by Helen Dean Fish (Editor)

Other authors: Dorothy P. Lathrop (Illustrator)

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This was the very first book to be awarded the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the “most distinguished American picture book for children.”

Dorothy Lathrop’s black and white illustrations are wonderful. It is clear that she has experience drawing animals from real life. From the creation to Noah’s Ark, Daniel in the lion’s den, and on to the new testament, the drawings are detailed and life-like. Lathrop also took pains to include accurate depictions of the flora of the area depicted.

So why only one star?

The book was conceived and planned by Helen Dean Fish, who selected the texts used from the King James Bible. In some cases, the animal is but a small mention in the text (Abraham’s Ram or Jonah and the Great Fish). She did nothing to write these as child-friendly stories. I cannot imagine a child sitting still for any of these verses. If I needed a child’s picture book of Bible stories, I’d pick a different book.

That’s really a pity, because Lathrup’s drawings are magnificent. I’d rate the illustrations 5***** - but I still wouldn’t recommend the book. ( )
  BookConcierge | Dec 8, 2017 |
I am atheist, raised in household that was pragmatic and didn't pay attention to church. I have no problem with the book, and in fact I do think it was worthy of the award because the pictures are gorgeous and do support the intent of the editor, as revealed by the texts she chose. I do have a problem in that several of the texts did not get pictures, but oh well.

I also see the B&W art as appropriate to the style of the pictures and the intent of the book. To me, they seem more reverent - colors would be gaudy, showing off... and isn't vanity a sin? Yes, I know colors have been used historically in many many very reverent images - but I agree with Lathrop's choice to let them be subtle.

I did read every word, which was difficult because I don't have the background. Some of the stories I could not figure out, could not make real sense of. But I imagine any child who rec'd this book back then did know more about the stories than I, so I can't fault the book for that. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
This review also appears on my blog.

Animals feature prominently in the Bible. Animals of the Bible: A Picture Book collects passages from the King James Bible, selected by Helen Dean Fish, that relate to animals, and pairs them with illustrations by Dorothy P. Lathrop.

For children's literature, two awards are preeminent: the Newbery Medal, first awarded in 1922, for children's literature; and the Caldecott Medal, first awarded in 1938, for picture books. Each has been awarded to some truly outstanding literature, over the years.

It has also, apparently, been awarded to some less-than-excellent books.

Animals of the Bible is less of a picture book, and more a series of drawings, each with an (extended) epigraph selected from the Bible. One can hardly criticize the quality of a set of Biblical quotations, each at most, perhaps, a dozen verses together, but it can be said that the text certainly forms no story, nor teaches anything in particular, nor has any coherent theme. It's more what I would expect from a Bible-themed calendar than a Caldecott winner.

Even the illustrations are something of a mixed bag. The animals are, as the introduction insists, generally relatively lifelike. The humans, though... well, just look at them. The prodigal son, there, looks as flat and oddly-posed as a thirteenth-century Madonna. Worse, really--especially in comparison to the substantially more realistic swine.

I suppose it was overly optimistic of me to assume that this book must be very good, just because it was a Caldecott winner--particularly since it was the first Caldecott winner. It's remained in print, all these years, on strength (I imagine) of that award. But it doesn't measure up to its successors. ( )
  Sopoforic | Mar 12, 2014 |
Animals of the Bible edited by Helen Dean Fish, illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop

David Ziegler's review
Feb 08, 14

bookshelves: read, animals, Caldecott Medal, picture books,

Animals of the Bible, edited by Helen Dean Fish illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop, features thirty detailed black-and-white drawings of favorite stories of the Bible's most extraordinary animals.

Lathrop's detailed drawings are the highlight of this book. The animal illustrations are quite appealing, though many of the human's appear nearly perfect looking. I enjoyed the black and white drawings.

I wish every verse had been illustrated. Animals of the Bible has 24 full page and 3 two page spreads. Among my favorite illustrations were the ravens, the Great Fish, Abraham's Ram, and Peaceable Kingdom.

The book is divided into Old and New Testament sections, with the verses presented in the order they appear in the bible. Since I grew up reading the King James version of the Bible, I was used to the language, which I consider beautiful. Today's children might have to work harder to comprehend this text, so it might work best as read-aloud choice. It could be presented in several readings.

With the appealing illustrations, this winner of the first Caldecott Medal gets a three star rating from me. For read-aloud, Bible, animals, and fans of Dorothy P. Lathrop. ( )
  David-Z | Feb 16, 2014 |
first caldecott award, 1938.
black and white illustrations
short stories from the Bible about animals
  bp0128bd | Jan 24, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fish, Helen DeanEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lathrop, Dorothy P.Illustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"Animals of the Bible" was authored by Helen Dean Fish and illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop.
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Book description
This book is a general information story of the animals that are found and used in the bible. This is not a beginner book but still uses easy to read type for the reader. There are small scripture references at the bottom of the text if you want to use them. The illustrations are black and white sketches that show what the text is talking about.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0397315368, Hardcover)

Dorothy Lathrop's Animals of the Bible won the very first Caldecott Medal when it was originally published in 1937. Now, in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of this prestigious medal and its first recipient, comes this special deluxe edition of Lathrop's award-winning collection of some of the Bible's most extraordinary animals. Thirty richly detailed black-and-white drawings illustrate the favorite stories of the Creation, Noah's Ark, the first Christmas, and many others. A glorious tribute to a great tradition in children's literature, this special anniversary edition will be a keepsake to treasure for years to come.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:13 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A picture book of the most memorable animals of Biblical stories with passages from Bible text

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