Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Simon and the Easter Miracle

Remember the man who was forced to pick up Jesus' cross and carry it for him? Author Mary Joslin imagines him as the central character for her book Simon and the Easter Miracle, based on Polish folklore.

The book begins by introducing us to Simon, a farmer who just wants to sell his eggs and produce in the market. But when he reaches town, there's an angry crowd crying "Crucify him!" Before Simon knows it, a Roman soldier tells him to put aside his baskets of goods and carry the cross of a beaten prisoner. Having no choice but to do what the soldier tells him to do, Simon carefully sets down his precious goods and picks up the cross. The prisoner thanks him and Simon asks what he's done to deserve crucifixion.
"The man shrugged. 'Preaching a message of peace,' he said."
Simon hurries away as soon as the cross is delivered to its spot on the hill. He doesn't want to hear the shouting and weeping. "All I wished for today was a good market, with fair prices for my produce," he says.

When he reaches the spot where he set aside his baskets, he finds his eggs broken, the wine spilt, and not enough left to bother trying to set up a market stall. He goes home with a sigh, happy that tomorrow is Sabbath, the day of rest.

Early Sunday morning, Simon gets up and starts to work. He looks at some eggs. They are cracked - and empty. He works in his olive grove - and notices the sudden sound of wings, as 12 white doves circle his head.
"At once Simon knew a miracle had happened. 'Doves are the birds of peace,' he said. 'And God blesses all those who work for peace.'"
The doves fly off, and Simon returns to his work, noticing "how quickly spring had warmed the new season's crops.'"

What I Like: Anna Luraschi's illustrations are warm and colorful. I think they do a nice job of capturing the attention of children.

What I Dislike: I didn't care for this book. It really is only useful for children who are quite knowledgeable about the true story of Easter - and even then, I think it detracts from the story of Jesus' resurrection. My children even found the story confusing. Were the empty eggs the same eggs from the market? Or were they newly laid? And what, exactly, was the miracle? Was the author referring to Christ's resurrection (which isn't actually mentioned), or the doves? Additionally, I felt the story watered-down the importance of Christ. Somehow, I don't think Jesus would have said he was being crucified because he was preaching peace.

Overall Rating: Ho-hum.

Age Appeal: About 4 - 8.

Publishing Info: Lion Hudson, 2012; ISBN:  978-0745960586; paperback, 32 pgs., $14.99

Buy Now at Amazon for $11.97 - or buy the Kindle version for $3.59
Or buy at ChristianBook.com for $7.19

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