"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
November 5, 2014
New Books have Visual Appeal
by Laurie Williams Sowby

This week’s column highlights diverse offerings, from a children’s baptism book to a pictorial description of the Plan of Salvation to a lengthy treatise on Jesus’ miracles, all with enticing visuals.

With I Want to Be Baptized, author Annalisa Hall and illustrator Corey Egbert have created a “prequel” to last year’s delightful The Holy Ghost is like a Blanket.

The hardcover book with sturdy pages and bright colors is perfect for kids preparing for baptism, but its metaphorical messages provide depth for adults as well. The question “What else?” at the end of each briefly explained segment leads to another concept.

One quibble about the statement, “Baptism washes away my sins”: Church doctrine and scripture make it clear that until the age of 8, children are not accountable; therefore, baptism does not “wash away [their] sins.”

Other than that caveat, it’s a book I’d recommend to answer a lot of questions about the meaning of baptism. Scriptures at the back provide additional reference with each memorable metaphor (Cedar Fort Press 20124, 32 pages in hard cover, $14.99).

Baptism is just one part of the process, of course, and artist Annie Henrie lays out her portrayal of “God’s Plan for Us” in Visions of Hope. Her beautifully rendered paintings are the result of yearnings she felt as a missionary in England to help people understand what she was teaching and glimpse their own potential for glory.

Spare words, simple symbols, well-chosen scriptures, and the artist’s deft hand combine to help others “realize, reinforce, or rebuild their faith.” Fourteen sepia-toned paintings are collected in this lovely book (Deseret Book 2014, 40 pages, $21.99).

With The Miracles of Jesus, the illustrations act more as accompaniments to heavy text. BYU religion professor Eric D. Huntsman offers in-depth analyses of such well-known miracles as healing the sick, casting out devils, and raising the dead, referencing scriptural accounts and a host of other writers and scholars.

Words and visuals complement each other in this well-composed book.

As his explanations illuminate the miracles, reproductions of religious paintings by classical artists such as James Tissot, Carl Bloch, Kirk Richards and others illustrate the stories. Further, photos give a sense of place and add realism to the events. Maps and charts aid understanding, with the expected notes, sources, and index added (Deseret Book 2014, 164 pages in hardcover, $25.99).

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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