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Book Review: Saint George And The Dragon
By Else-Maria Tennessen

I am so pleased with this new book by my friend, Jim Forest.

In this large format children's book, Jim retells the story of St George in simple and clear language that nevertheless helps you see and feel the story. Every page spread is illustrated with a Byzantine icon by iconographer Vladislav Andrejev of New York. The icons are stunning in detail and color, and I found myself spending more than several minutes looking at them and identifying the messages within. For example, the attitude of the hands in all the pictures clearly communicates conversation. In the icon where St George tells Elizabeth about Christ, George gestures toward Heaven as Christ leans out of the clouds and blesses him. In the following picture, Christ is leaning and blessing Elizabeth, indicating that she has believed the Message. Wonderful!

And in the icon where George is facing the King and Queen, the dragon is clearly underfoot and even seems to be licking the foot of the cross on George's shield in an appeasing posture. I know I will continue to find hidden and wondrous details as I examine these works of faith and art.

At the end of the story, author Jim Forest provides a special essay with historical background about St George and more icon images. This section is a great addition for those who want to know more. In all, the book is a wonderful reminder that we can depend on Christ's strength, might and sovereignty over the dragons--those evils and troubles--in our lives.

The story of George is for those of us who need courage. It was not lost on me that the princess' name was Elizabeth--from which my own name, Else, is derived. I am often fearful and afraid. I often need courage, even to face the day. Thank God for His precious grace and salvation! I would be lost without Him. This icon will continue to remind me of my need for Him--and of His ready and swift arrival at my side when the battle is nigh.

I see that I need an icon of St George near me to also remind me of Christ's power and gentleness, both. For did He not have compassion on those who killed Him? "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do." We often need to forgive our "dragons." There are so many lessons for us in this legend.

This saint story blessed me and increased my faith. I highly recommend it, to both children and adults.

Saint George and the Dragon. Written by Jim Forest and illustrated by Vladislav Andrejev. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2011. ISBN 9780881413731.

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