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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.

 

eden

12sons

ark

chpt2

david-goliath

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.


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21 thoughts on “The Biggest Story”

  1. Melody says:

    Gorgeous! I adore those illustrations.

  2. Steve Krieg says:

    Looks fantastic! Just ordered one to read to the grandkids form Westminster Books! Thanks Kevin and Don.

  3. Neville Briggs says:

    So now we have yet another publication to add to what a lot of people think; that the Bible is not serious history, but at best regarded as a collection of childrens’ story confections.

    Meanwhile Muslim children don’t get comic books about Islam to read, they are taught to learn The Koran.
    Steve Krieg, why don’t you read the Bible to the grandkids.

    So Mr De Young is careful not to depict Jesus in a caricature style, maybe he should have declined to depict God’s Word in a caricature style.

  4. anaquaduck says:

    Nice work, not as mysterious or coded like the illuminated manuscripts of ages past. As an adult with a keen interest in illustration I think it is quality work. I also grew up with many of the Arch illustrated Bible stories in my younger days.

    I never knew the philistines had green skin though, its like those scientific illustrations that apply creative license very often for exaggerated effect :)

  5. gk says:

    I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: **she** shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. (Gen 3:15, Douay-Rheims, emphasis added). Beautiful illustrations!

  6. Steve Krieg says:

    Mr. Briggs, How do you know whether or not I read the Bible to my grandkids? I’m guessing you haven’t even read Kevin’s book. It isn’t any either or situation, I will read BOTH to my grandkids. Thanks again Kevin and Don for producing a quality book. Looking forward to reading and sharing it!

  7. Erin Metzler says:

    I’d love to get one of these for our family. Looks beautiful.

  8. Ross Riggan says:

    Neville, there is seemingly nothing but mean-spiritedness in your comment. Do you really believe it is God’s calling on your life to follow DeYoung’s blog to harass almost anything he thinks, says, or does?

  9. Kevin Sze Tho says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Just wondering what age group is the book most suitable for? Thanks.

  10. Pingback: The Biggest Story
  11. Neville Briggs says:

    Thanks for that Ross. Mr DeYoung has never objected to my posts, or made any reply.

  12. David says:

    Great idea. Pity about the shit graphics that remove all warmth and “Once upon a time” fairy tale tone.

  13. Ryan says:

    This book was a wonderful read, thank you for it! Our church just added it to their library and we were so excited to see the new addition! Would it be possible to get any of the artwork in a print size? Thank you!!!

  14. Inwoo Lee says:

    I was going to get this for my niece. Yet first, I wanted to make sure that there are no images of the second person of the Holy Trinity. You never know these days. Are there?

  15. Inwoo Lee says:

    Oh, you answered it in the post. Scratch that question.

  16. Ryan says:

    We had a blessed viewing of “the Biggest Story”, thanks so much for providing this to our church (Grace PCA, Sierra Vista, AZ). we had 60 people in our backyard and we loved the film and book!His, The Ellison Family at Grace PCA

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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