Ladder of Angels, copyright 1979, is an illustrated collection of Biblical stories, as interpreted by Madeleine L'Engle. The colorful pictures were chosen by the author from an exhibition titled, Children of the World Illustrate the Old Testament. Their ages then ranged from eight to fourteen; the countries they lived in are also listed, from Africa to West Germany, from Austria to Israel.
The author starts with Genesis 1:1-25, with the title THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, and in 83 words (including a dozen ands) gets her point across, repeating one line twice, "there was nothing." In between that page and the last page, there are angels and Satan, kings and wars, familiar names and stories, a desert of dry bones (but on a large green plate!), two Towers of Babel and several versions of the ark, three very different ladders.
The simplicity and stark quality of the art is both captivating and timelessly profound. Some of it is fanciful in the way only children can accomplish, with odd attention to detail which makes one wonder do we lose that special sight as we grow older, that intangible magic that believes in animals hovering halfway between God's disembodied hands and an empty earth. Men who are depicted as either half fish or wearing armour, in HO, EVERYONE THAT THIRSTETH, COME YE FOR WATER, Isaiah 55.
The last story chosen was NEHEMIAH COMES TO JERUSALEM, from Nehemiah 1-2. The accompanying picture is literally pale in comparison to the plaintive words, "I asked about the Jews, the remnant rescued from captivity, and he told me that they are in great trouble and humiliation, for the walls are broken down and the gates burned."