Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ravens to the Rescue!

When I was two, I was given a book titled Bible Stories by my grandmother. It was a collection of Old Testament stories, with wonderful illustrations by Lajos Segner, that completely captured my imagination. Here is the one of my favorite pictures from the story Elijah Is Fed.

The cover of my Bible Stories has been missing as long as I remember. It's stained and torn, and there are some pencil scribbles over the text -- in other words, it was completely loved. I remember asking my mother to read me stories from this book, over and over, long before I learned to read.

In many ways, Bible Stories, was an inspiration for Holy Crocodile! The Old Testament animal stories were among my favorites, and the lush illustrations drew me in, while I listened to the words being read aloud. The format is similar too -- a collection of short stories, each matched by an illustration.

Here is the illustration to my own story Raven to the Rescue, from Holy Crocodile! What's missing from this picture, is the continuation of the image on the opposite page, which shows a little monk running to warn St. Benedict that his bread has been poisoned.

These two raven stories are almost mirror images of each other. Elijah is given bread by the ravens, to save his life. Benedict has his bread snatched away by a raven, to save his life. In both cases, the ravens act as a guardian angels, fulfilling the will of God.


A note about Bible Stories. This book was published by Whitman Publishing Co., Racine, WI. Whitman published children's books from the early 1900's into the mid 1970's. Bible Stories was originally copyrighted in 1950, and my addition appears to be from 1959. It's a slim book, and possibly was part of the "Golden Book" series (which Whitman published) -- but since I'm missing the cover, I can't be sure. The inside title page (and my de facto cover) says "Illustrations by Lajos Segner." Segner is credited with being the author and illustrator on the OCLC website. This book can still be found in a few libraries around the country:

Sadly, an Internet search turns up no information about Lajos Segner, except the above link.

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