The Deluge is certainly the most horrific act of destruction that this planet has ever experienced, still countless numbers of adults and children find the relation of this event one of the most captivating stories found in the Old Testament. The concept of “two by two”, a host of animals on a bulky cargo ship, and a redeemed family living onboard continues to spur artists and authors to create new child-friendly renditions of this timeless event.
Needless to say, many parents don't want to expose their young children to the dreadful realities that such mass destruction created. As such, cheerful board books such as Noah’s Animal Friends are written to introduce preschoolers to this pivotal occurrence in human history. Author Gwen Ellis has written the text for a 10 page board book to accompany a unique playset that encourages young children to act out loading the animals onto the ark.
Lucy Barnard’s illustrations are charming, whimsical, and unabashedly friendly. Noah and his family all seem very personable, the animals are all smiling. With a varied palette of saturated colors and folk-art influenced characters, the illustrations are incredibly appealing for young children. Ellis’ text is warm, and as most simplified versions do – omits more complex details such as seven of certain animals being brought on board. Action words and simple conversational language are used to depict God’s instructions to Noah, and the motion of the ark on the water.
The large, heavy cardboard playset immediately captured the hearts of my children, and after punching out some light cardboard animals, they set to work inserting the tabs on the bottom of the animals into slots in the ark. The ark has two doors that open wide, displaying a storage slot for the book, and an art scene – most of the animals have one or two representatives already on board, but there are some singles and Noah himself left loose that need some help getting loaded.