In this stunning achievement, the renowned husband-and-wife team sets 12 Old Testament stories in the context of early 19th-century South Carolina, illustrated with Ransome's glorious paintings. As the McKissacks state in their introduction, "The stories are timeless treasures, universally read and honored, but no group embraced the Hebrew heroes of old more than African Americans during slavery times." The dozen tales unfold as Price Jeffries, who won his freedom in a seaman's lottery, tells them to his daughter in answer to her questions about what she sees happening in the world around her. The collection opens as father and daughter encounter a constable for wealthy slaveholder Mr. Riley and Charlotte asks her father, "Do Mr. Sam Riley own the moon?" He responds with the story of creation and tells her, "Nobody can make a slave of the moon, the sun, the stars, or any part of what God created, no matter how rich they may be. God made something wonderful out of nothing. What human being can do that?" Through the characters of Charlotte and Price Jeffries, based on historical abolitionists, the McKissacks answer the toughest questions of this troubling period of American history with stories of faith. When Charlotte witnesses an African child's death on the auction block, she asks her father, "Why is it God lets one person buy and own another person?" He answers with the story of Eden and "how God let the first people make their own choices." The story of the courtship of Charlotte's parents ("a love worth waiting for") leads the way to that of Jacob and Rachel. Each Old Testament story builds upon the one before it, weaving the development of Charlotte's personal history and the Biblical stories into a seamless whole. The volume's design further integrates the interlacing elements: Charlotte's story is set in warm bluish type, the Biblical retellings in classic black. Ransome's remarkable portraits capture the full range of Charlotte's and Price's emotions, as well as the serene dignity of leaders such as Solomon and Moses and of Daniel in the lion's den. His version of dramatic Old Testament events, particularly his vision of the creation, are captivating.Readers will likely return to this extraordinary volume again and again, knowing that the answers to life's painful questions reside in the stories of faith that have comforted others for thousands of years. All ages. (Oct.)McKissack, Patricia C. is the author of 'Let My People Go Bible Stories Told by a Freeman of Color to His Daughter, Charlotte, in Charleston, South Carolina, 1806-16', published 1998 under ISBN 9780689808562 and ISBN 0689808569.