07 Aug / Joseph Smith and the Mormons by Noah Van Sciver [in Booklist]
Award-winning Noah Van Sciver shares in his author’s note he was born into an LDS family descended from a husband of Brigham Young’s daughter, Elizabeth. After his parents’ divorce when he was 12, he began to learn “about Joseph Smith and everything that [his] Sunday school lessons never mentioned.” He eventually “immersed” himself in a years-long independent study to create this title: “I needed to draw this book because I needed to know who Joseph Smith was.”
The result is an extraordinary, full-color chronicle about an almost illiterate teen from a “scrying” family (the Smiths, reputed to be frauds, used a “seer” stone to allegedly locate treasures), who managed to convince thousands that he was a prophet in direct communication with God, despite committing acts of financial, legal, moral, and marital fraud.
Although Van Sciver insists “this is not a work of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but an independent art project,” the publication page states – most interestingly – in bold, “The original art for this book resides in the library of Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, and is available for study on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Van Sciver’s approach here is “to tell the story of Joseph Smith as straightforwardly as [he could] and let readers draw their own conclusions.” Gobsmacked reactions indubitably await.
YA/Special interest: Younger audiences with an interest in the origins of major religions will discover multi-layered, you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up history here.