Niko Chocheli has illustrated many books for Orthodox children. Some of these titles include Christ in the New Testament, Prepare O Bethlehem, The Praises, the slightly spooky Halloween Town, and most recently The Legend of the Cross, but I chose to review The Book of Jonah. Published by St. Vladimir’s Press in 2000, The Book of Jonah, is simply that: excerpts from the prophetic book of Jonah with stunningly creative illustrations which definitely bring a fresh, if startling, perspective to this familiar story.
The illustrations defy description: Jonah’s ship seems to have a leopard print sail (who knew?). Mr. Chocheli clearly has creative fun depicting things or people, but he’s also an accomplished iconographer who shows reverence and depth. My children found the artwork a little unsettling because the colors are dark and the drawings have odd details, but others might say that its spiciness provides a welcome contrast with many Christian children’s books. He’s sort of the Tim Burton of Orthodox Children’s literature: some of you will love his books, while others may find them a bit disturbing.