Name of Book: The Easter Story
Author: Brian Wildsmith
Illustrator: Brian Wildsmith
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Audience: Ages 5 and up
Summary: This book is a retelling of the gospel Easter stories with the addition of the Palm Sunday donkey throughout the entire story. The book begins with the Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem and ends with Christ’s ascension into heaven following the Resurrection. The donkey from Palm Sunday is present in each part of the story, thus adding a more child-friendly character to the Easter stories.
Literary elements at work in the story: The story is told from a third person omniscient point of view. The addition of the “little donkey” helps to soften the story and make it more personal to little children engaged in the story. The characters named and portrayed are the Biblical characters from the appropriate stories, including: Jesus, disciples, Pontius Pilate, Mary, Mary Magdelene, Caiaphas, angels and more.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economic/ability make a difference to the story? While the book is set in the various towns and locations from the Bible, the artwork portrays a very fair-skinned cast of characters. The book is also layered with a lot of gold paint, helping to set a high ecclesiology interpretation of the Biblical stories. (For instance, there is an altar-looking stone table in the tomb where Christ’s body is laid after crucifixion.) The culture portrayed strongly resembles the culture of the author as he shares his rendition of these stories.
Scripture: Matthew 21:1-18, 26:17 – 28:10; Mark 11:1-25, 14:12 – 16:20; Luke 19:28-47, 22:7- 24:12, 24:36-53; John 12:12-16, 13:21-38, 18:1 – 20:23
Theology: Jesus Christ is the humanity of our Salvation offered to us by God in love. In salvation, God makes the first move and reaches out because God loves us no matter how we respond to God. God also gives us the gift of faith so that we can trust that our relationships with God and one another are made right by Jesus Christ. Through the life, death and resurrection of Christ we experience the abundant forgiveness, mercy and love of God. The story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is the story of love, healing and reconciliation from God to all of creation.
Faith Talk Questions
- What was different in this book from the Easter stories in Scripture?
- Why do you think Little Donkey wanted to stay with Jesus?
- Who might Little Donkey remind you of that’s always with you, even when bad things happen?
- How does it make you feel to know that God sent Jesus to be crucified in your place?
- Where do you most see God’s love in The Easter Story?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Katie Todd