Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Very First Easter Story

The true story of Easter is one that every child should know - and while very young children may not completely understand it, it's never too early to begin introducing them to the story of Jesus' death and resurrection and what it means for us. That's the concept behind My Very First Easter Story by Lois Rock.

Rock begins the story on Passover, with crowds welcoming Jesus with palm branches. "This must be the beginning of Jesus making the whole world a better place," the author credits the crowd with thinking. Then we see Jesus at the temple, overturning the tables because "Jesus could see they were making people pay too much." Next, we see Jesus at the last supper, instructing his disciples. We learn about his prayer in the garden, which Rock simplifies as: "Father God...I don't want these hard times, but I will do what you want." Then soldiers take Jesus away and crucify him. His friends put him in a tomb.

Those same friends decide they need to hide, or the Romans might come after them, too. But when they go back to Jesus' tomb "to say goodbye," Jesus' body is missing. Shortly after, "a man" bumps into some of Jesus' friends, and they invite him to dinner. Suddenly, when he says a prayer, they see the man is Jesus. And then Jesus disappears.

But Jesus reappears to instruct his friends. "He helped them understand that God is a friend when people face hard times, and that God can make everything good and right again. He gave them a job to do - to tell this news to all the world." Then Jesus goes to Heaven.
"But God gave his friends the help they needed. They suddenly felt brave. They knew what to say. They began to speak to anyone who would listen...'Jesus came to us from God,' they explained. 'He came to tell us how much God loves us. People tried to stop him, but their plan hasn't worked. Jesus is alive, proving that his message is true: God wants everyone to give up bad ways and come home to a place of goodness. God welcomes us all as friends.' ...The news has been spreading ever since."
What I Like: Overall, I think Rock did a decent job of explaining the Easter story. In fact, she covers many aspects of it that other children's Easter books usually leave out - including an attempt at the true significance of Jesus' death and resurrection.

What I Dislike: However, I think this book misses the mark of being a "very first" Easter book. First of all, this book doesn't do a good job of keeping the attention of young children. Some of that is due to the illustrations by Alex Ayliffe, which are pretty lifeless, actionless, and bland. Very good illustrations would make this book far more enjoyable for young children.

But I also find that this book may include too much information for young children. The Easter story is one of drama, excitement, and emotion. But because this is a book for young children, it is highly condensed. That means there is little to hold kids' attention, and the storyline might be a little difficult to follow. Also, some parts are just confusing for little people. For example, when "a man" appears to Jesus' friends, they don't immediately know it is Jesus. Young kids are going to ask why, but the author doesn't attempt to answer this. (Of course, the Bible doesn't answer this question, either.) This whole section is really confusing for young ones.

More importantly, I question how the author sums up the significance of Jesus' resurrection. Why go on and on about giving up "bad ways" and being God's "friend" when you could tell children how Jesus paid the price for our sins so we can someday go to Heaven and be with God?

Overall Rating: Ho-hum.

Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 3 - 5 years.

Publishing Info: Lion, 2012; ISBN:  978-0745962160; hardback, 32 pgs., $6.99

Buy Now at Amazon for $5.9. Or buy at ChristianBook.com for $5.99
Also available is a sticker book version.

Special Info: Looking for a better choice of an Easter book for young children? Check out our reviews for the following books: The Very First Easter, The Story of Easter, What is Easter?, My Easter Basket, An Easter Gift for Me, and The Story of Easter.

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