The Friend’s book reviews

I had no idea that The LDS Church’s magazine for kids The Friend published book reviews until I happened to glance over at my daughter a couple of Sunday’s ago as she was reading the reviews in the May 2009 issue. My interest was piqued so I went over to the to see what I could discover.

A search of The Friend on for “book reviews” shows that this feature began in May 2006 and that a Book Reviews column has been published in every November and May issue since then. Two prior results also appear — one in 1982 and one in 1985. [Of course, it may be that that search isn’t turning up everything.]

Some of the titles reviewed in the May 2009 issue are: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, by Donald J. Sobol; Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish; Small Pig, by Arnold Lobel; and Bertie Was a Watchdog, by Rick Walton (a bit of homerism, here, as Rick is LDS), illustrated by Arthur Robins. Continue reading “The Friend’s book reviews”

Harvest paintings in Sept. Ensign

I wasn’t planning on doing another post on Ensign art, but the September issue has another four page spread — this one featuring harvest-themed work. What I find interesting is that the feature, which is titled “A Time of Harvest” doesn’t focus on what one thinks it would (or at least what I thought it would). It’s not about D&C 4:4, not about the harvest as missionary work metaphor, but rather it’s actually about the harvest season — complete with quotes from Presidents Monson, Hinckley and Kimball on the joys of growing your own food.

Most of the works featured (7 paintings, 1 sculpture and 1 quilt) are from the Museum of Church History. Three focus on the fruits of the harvest in the home; the rest on the actual action of harvesting.

There is one painting that grabbed me, in particular, and I wasn’t surprised to find that it was by J. Kirk Richards. I have been a fan of his work ever since reading an LDS Today profile of him back in 2003 (although I think that that’s actually a shortened profile and that there was a fuller, earlier one, featuring more of his work, posted on an earlier incarnation of the LDS Today Web site from maybe 2000 or 2001). Continue reading “Harvest paintings in Sept. Ensign”

Minerva Teichert’s subtle Book of Mormon lessons

The August issue of the Ensign features four pages of photos of Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon work. Each work has a caption next to it with the title as well as an excerpt from a Book of Mormon verse. Titled “And Thus We See,” the article states that “lessons learned from stories in the Book of Mormon are sometimes clearly stated after words ‘and thus we see’ … yet other lessons learned from the Book of Mormon may be more subtly taught” (40).

Readers are then urged to “turn to the scriptures for the full account of each story” depicted by Teichert and “identify the powerful lesson each story teaches” (40).

Of the nine works represented in the article, I had only previously seen four of them. I was particularly struck by “The Earthquake” (Alma the Younger and Amulek in prison), “Treachery of Amalickiah” and “Trial of Abinidi.”

The Ensign‘s art direction is sometimes criticized in Mormon cultural circles. Often justly. But I think it should also be applauded when it delivers. Yes, readers are asked to learn lessons from the cited scriptures, but the focus on Teichert’s work is also a powerful reminder that these same words have inspired wonderful art. And this is especially true since her work isn’t necessarily as easy to digest as most of the other paintings that appear in the Ensign. Or at least it isn’t for me.

The August issue hasn’t been posted online yet, but here is a link to Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon works (BYU Museum of Art). Note that there are 45 results that come up with that search so hopefully the Ensign does the same exact story in three to four years, but with a different set of paintings.