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An Amish Alphabet takes readers behind the scenes


Mennonite Church Canada/MennoMedia joint release
September 26, 2012
-MennoMedia staff

Waterloo, Ont. and Harrisonburg, Va. — The Amish are known for their old-fashioned customs and dress. But who are they, really—and what does their way of life symbolize for them? What can they teach the rest of us about faith and living it out in new ways?

An Amish Alphabet, to be released by Herald Press in early October, offers an entertaining yet informative introduction to one of North America’s most admired and misunderstood minority cultures. Author and illustrator Ingrid Hess draws on her Amish and Mennonite heritage to capture the essence of Amish faith and life in the alphabet words she uses, as well as her careful descriptions, simple illustrations, and cut-paper artistry.

“I used handmade papers and chose to do cut paper because I think it reflects the high quality craftsmanship of the Amish,” Hess said. “I think it’s stunningly beautiful and very natural.”

In the 32-page hardback, geared for children of all ages but also of interest to adults, Hess includes a sampling of Bible verses that the Amish learn by heart and treasure all their lives. In her entry for “I is for idol,” the Scripture reference is from Exodus. Hess explains why the Amish do not want their pictures taken: “They don’t want to be self-centered. Pictures highlight individual people, not the community . . . The Amish also believe that making pictures of people is like making an idol to worship. God is the only one who should be worshiped.”

Hess noted that many people are interested in learning about the Amish, but there is a lot of misunderstanding about their way of life and faith. “Their lifestyle choices are often directly based on Scripture. They have a solid faith on which they base their choices. I hope that readers will get a basic understanding of why the Amish do what they do.”

Hess is an alumna of Goshen College. She holds an MFA in graphic design from Indiana University with an emphasis in book arts. She has worked in the publishing industry since 1996 and is currently a graphic design professor living in Rochester, New York. She was winner of the 2008 Rodda Award for Sleep in Peace (Herald Press), a bedtime book for children.

Other Herald Press books by Hess include Praying with Our Feet (illustrator), The Family Song (illustrator), and Walk in Peace (author and illustrator).

An Amish Alphabet, $17.99, is available at or by 800-631-6535 (Canada). Herald Press is the book imprint of MennoMedia, a ministry of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.

Book cover image and author image available here:

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David Rohrer
Marketing Manager