The Easter Day Surprise by Jane L Fryar is a rhyming retelling of the Easter story, focusing on the amazing surprises of that time.
The book begins:
"The sky above hung black as ink,
While very low a hint of pink
Began to tint the eastern sky,
To light three crosses standing by.
In heaven, God the Father said,
'My Son has risen from the dead.
He died to pay the price for sin.
I've brought Him back to life again.'"
The accompanying illustration, by Michelle Dorenkamp, is a beautiful rendition of a sunrise valley, with three cross-shadows in the distance.
Next, angels announce that Jesus has risen and this is "God's great Easter Day surprise." An angel scares a squad of soldiers away from Jesus' tomb as the earth quakes. The stone moves away from the tomb's opening...and Jesus is not inside.
Mary comes to the tomb, "numb with grief." When she sees the tomb is empty, she runs back to two of her friends (John and Peter) and they all hurry back to the tomb, horrified by its emptiness. As the men walk back to town, Mary weeps at the tomb. She wonders: "Were Jesus' promises not kept?/Why had He died? She didn't know./She only knew she'd loved Him so." Finally, as she turns to leave, she hears a man speaking to her. She thinks it's the gardener, and begs him to tell her where her Lord is. When the man speaks her name, Mary suddenly realizes she's talking to Jesus. He is alive! Jesus explains that he died to free her from death and sin, then tells her to go spread the word: "Go, now! You can believe your eyes./Go, share My Easter Day surprise."
The last page of the book is a quote from Matthew 28:18 - 20, commanding us to spread the Good News to all nations.
What I Like: Fryar's rhyme is easy to read aloud, tells the story clearly, isn't forced, and at times is quite poetic. Dorenkamp's illustrations are excellent, with lovely settings and biblical characters who come to life.
What I Dislike: Nothing.
Overall Rating: Excellent.
Age Appeal: There is no age recommendation from the publisher, but I'd say 2 - 8.
Publishing Info: Concordia, 2008; ISBN: 0758614454; hard back, $14.99.
Buy Now at Amazon.com for $10.19
Special Info: Some Christians will object that Jesus' face is depicted in this book.