Friday, March 16, 2007

J is for Jesus: An Easter Alphabet and Activity Book

This is the best Easter book I have found to date! J is for Jesus: An Easter Alphabet and Activity Book is written by Debbie Trafton O'Neal and illustrated by Jan Bryan-Hunt. It clearly teaches children about the Holy Week and the reasons we celebrate Easter without being too complicated, too advanced, too secular or too boring. Readers follow Jesus from the triumphant entry (Palm Sunday) through the last supper, His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.

Rather than forcing the story into an alphabetical order (as most alphabet books do), the author tells the story first, then highlights words within the sentence that feature the alphabetical sequence. For example, the pages for S and T read: "'Your sins are forgiven,' Jesus said. 'You are free!' Then he died on a cross that was carved from a tree." The words "sins" and "tree" are highlighted, but without distracting from the story.

Filled with bright colors, the illustrations are delightfully unique. They feature people of all ethinicities. In the back of the book, the author gives four crafts parents and kids can do together to create Easter memories.

What I Like: It is important to me to teach our children the honest reason we celebrate Easter without frightening them. Death is not a typical discussion with toddlers, but the truth of Jesus' death and resurrection is crucial doctrine. This book doesn't skimp on the key details. It presents the whole story in a wonderfully, positive way. I like being able to focus on the story with or without the alphabet. The introduction and projects in the back are fabulous. The illustrations are magnificent! I was a little nervous about it being a paperback, but the cover is sturdy, and the pages are glossy, making it easy to clean. As a whole, this book is a perfectly delightful teaching tool.

What I Dislike: While this book is extremely accurate for a children's book, one detail did catch my attention. On the pages for W and X the text reads: "The women ran quickly to find the eleven, explaining that Jesus had gone up to heaven." I understand this fits better with the rhyme and alphabetical sequence, however, Jesus did not immediately go up to heaven. Only after appearing to hundreds of people over a period of weeks did He ascend to heaven.

Overall Rating: Very Good!

Age Appeal: 4-8, though my 19-month-old son loves it

Publisher Info: Augsburg Books, 2006; ISBN: 0806651237; Paperback; $10.99

Buy it Now at Amazon for $9.34

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