Light of the World, The.jpg

The Light of the World: The Life of Jesus for Children

Written by Katherine Paterson

Illustrated by François Roca

The life of Jesus as only Katherine Paterson could tell it

Jesus was born in a stable, grew up in a village, spoke of God's kingdom, performed many miracles, died and rose again... and his love changed the world.

Two-time Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson and acclaimed illustrator François Roca bring their signature grace, artistry, and compassion to a beloved story once again made new - the story of the light that still shines.

Reviews and Awards

⋆ "Newbery Medalist Paterson turns her talents and considerable experience as a religious educator to interpreting the life of Jesus in a style that children will understand. In a gentle, simply told fashion, Paterson begins her interpretation with the metaphor of the light of the world before introducing Mary and presenting the angel’s announcement of her forthcoming child. The author continues her well-written narrative in chronological order, focusing on Christ’s ministry and his disciples, with some simple explanations of the political situation that led to Christ’s crucifixion. The story of Jesus is necessarily shortened within this framework, leaving out some key incidents such as Christ’s baptism, but the coherent and smoothly told text succeeds in conveying a powerful and understandable story. Roca’s illustrations, previously used as illustrations in a French volume of a similar nature, are just as polished and accessible as the text, with the individualistic faces and costumes of the characters making them seem like real people. Interestingly, Jesus as an adult is always shown from behind or at a distance, making him a character that readers must interpret for themselves." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

⋆ “Paterson, who spent four years as a missionary in Japan, begins her life of Jesus with words that hearken back to the prophet Isaiah: people living in darkness will someday see light. ‘This is the story of light coming into the World.’ The snowy-white text pages have a paragraph or so of text, facing one of Roca’s striking, framed paintings. Paterson is a judicious editor of her material, conveying much in short bursts of words: ‘The people only knew of kings and rulers whose power was selfish and cruel. But Jesus explained that God’s kingdom was not like the kingdoms on earth.’ The incisive text, which deftly moves through the story of Jesus’ life and death, also highlights several of the best-known parables. For the most part, the paintings beautifully support the text, although one, meant to show the bread and wine that symbolize Jesus’ body and blood, barely resembles what it is supposed to represent. Otherwise, Roca presents two kinds of art here, close-ups of the various people in Jesus’ story and, more successfully, handsome landscapes that give import to events. Interestingly, Jesus is only seen in the distance in these paintings. An effective version for children of the greatest story ever told.” - Booklist, starred review

"Paterson’s eloquent narrative is accompanied by lush portraits painted in subtle earth tones that evoke the ancient atmosphere of biblical society. The illustrations glow with a light of their own. The picture of Mary and Joseph adoring the newborn baby is especially poignant. The author beautifully illuminates the themes of love, faith, and goodness in this retelling..." - School Library Journal

⋆ "As Newbery Medalist Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia) distills key events in the life of Jesus, her unfettered prose is sure to prove inviting to young readers. Blending accessible language and memorable, age-appropriate imagery, she skillfully encapsulates familiar Bible passages and parables: “Jesus was hung on a cross on a hill outside the city, between two men who were thieves. His frightened friends had run away. He felt very alone./ When Jesus died, darkness covered the earth. The light of the world had gone out.” Roca's (The Yellow Train) stylized oil paintings, a series of warm-hued portraits and scenes deceptively spare in their composition, seem to use light as an organizing motif, too. Sun illuminates Jesus as he leads his disciples across tawny desert, and light from an unseen source falls upon the lame man whom the offstage Jesus heals; the palette darkens when Roca shows disbelievers and as the crucifixion nears. The illustrations, unconventionally, preceded Paterson's text, originally appearing in a French children's book and inspiring this book's editor to seek out an American author. The pairing works seamlessly, with both author and artist highlighting elements of the story (the cup of wine, the bread eaten when Jesus “gathered his closest friends to celebrate the feast of Passover”), and illuminating them anew for children and adults alike." - Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Paterson’s graceful rendition of Scripture for children is well matched by Roca’s glowing illustrations.... Writer and illustrator lend their crafts to an earnest and artful expression of faith." Horn Book 

Purchase Options
Indiebound • Amazon • Barnes & Noble

Spring 2008
Picture Book
ISBN: 0-545-01172-8
Price: $17.99 / $21.99 Can
Trim Size: 10" x 10"
Page Count: 48
Foreign Rights: Scholastic (Text only)
Translation Rights: Curtis Brown Ltd.
Rights Available? yes