r Three sisters, Christine Layton Graham, Joan Layton Merrell, and Carol Layton Ogden, bring an original approach to the Allegory of the Olive Tree found in Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon. Their book, The Olive Tree, published recently by Cedar Fort is especially timely for this year’s Book of Mormon curriculum.
At 3, 834 words, Jacob 5 is the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon. It is beautiful and important, but difficult to follow. To make the story approachable while retaining the richness and spirit of the Hebraic poetry, the sisters pooled their talents. Christine is a writer, Joan a calligrapher, and Carol a painter.
Christine worked with the original text to simplify the story. The Olive Tree account is under 1500 words, closer to a picture book. The poetic synonyms and repetition are focused to make the narrative easier to follow while retaining the flavor of the scriptural text.
Joan, an accomplished professional calligrapher, hand lettered the entire book, including the copyright page. The shapes of the letters recall the colors and shapes of olive leaves and fruit. Working with the editors at Cedar Fort Publishing, she mirrored the colors of the illustrations in ways that highlight the meaning of the text.
Carol, a painter, researched ancient olive culture and created richly colored illustrations that portray grafting, cultivating, and harvesting. More than that, pictures convey the deep love the Lord and his servant feel for the trees as they try again and again to nurture them into producing good fruit.
Reviewers have said the book is “a visual delight and a beautiful keepsake for individuals and families” (Tequita Andrews), “a treasure trove of art and allegorical literature” (June Maffin), and that it “makes a good companion book for scripture study or a family home evening/church lesson” (Francesca Nishimoto).