What stands out most in this book are the bold illustrations. In the beginning of the book, all the illustrations are dark; gradually, they grow brighter. We see the world begin as "nothing" and gradually grow into a planet filled with plants, animals, and a man and a woman. McDermott's illustrations are modern - but also a little folk-art like. Toward the end of the book, the illustrations hearken to Native American and Mexican art.
The text is the voice of God:
"I was before time. I was everywhere...My spirit moved over the deep. I floated in darkness. Then I breathed light into the dark."
Although there is some creative writing going on here (the Bible doesn't say, for example, that God was floating in darkness before he created the world), there's also nothing that conflicts with biblical messages. The text is sometimes poetic, and seems to stress that man and woman (unnamed in this book) were designed - at least in part - to care for the earth.
After we see God create everything, the text reads: "I am all this. All this I AM."
What I Like: There is some beauty in this retelling. For example: "Between heaven and earth my spirit soared on the wings of birds" and "I divided the mists, sweet and salt. There was water above. There was water below. Between them was heaven." Although the style of illustration wouldn't have been my first choice, it is certainly creative and interesting. I think children in the target age group will enjoy them.
What I Dislike: McDermott's illustrations are somewhat dark and sometimes a little scary. For example, one page's background is black and fire-orange, and covered with many animals, teeth bared and horns looking menacing. This is not a book for small children, or children who frighten easily.
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: 5 - 9.
Publishing Info: Dutton, 2003; ISBN: 0525469052; hard back, $16.99.
Special Info: Author and illustrator Gerald McDermott's website offers a free peek at the inside pages of this book.