As Easter approaches, many of us as parents and teachers strive to find ways to explain the Easter miracle to young minds. Picture books that bring the first Easter to life are a beautiful way to accomplish that purpose. So, it was with great excitement that I opened the cover of Simon and the Easter Miracle, written by Mary Joslin and illustrated by Ann Luraschi.
Simon is a familiar character in Scripture, recognized as the man who carried Jesus’ cross when His broken body could not longer carry it. In Simon and the Easter Miracle, Simon is just coming into town with produce to sell in a market booth when he comes across the commotion of Jesus being led up the hill to Golgotha. Simon is ordered to put down his wares and pick up the cross. He reluctantly does as he is ordered after finding as safe a place as possible to stow his things. As he picks up Jesus’ cross, he asks what He had done to deserve death.
The man shrugged slightly. “Preaching a message of peace,” he said.
Simon carries the cross up the hill and then hurries away. He returns to where he left his produce only to discover that all but a dozen eggs has been trampled and ruined. He returns home dejected. Two mornings later, he goes to his barn to find the dozen eggs cracked and empty. Later he finds a dozen doves flying around, and then he sees that his new crop is growing better than expected. There the story ends.
Simon and the Easter Miracle is a sweet story based on a Polish folktale about the Biblical Simon of Cyrene. It definitely is fun to read about how other nationalities have taken portions of Bible and turned them into traditional folktales. From that perspective, this is a fun book, and I would recommend it as part of a missions project to talk about the Polish people. But, I have several major reservations about recommending this book as an Easter story.
- The Biblical story of the first Easter is not told. The only connection to Scripture that this book holds is that Simon carries the cross.
- Jesus is never mentioned by name. Without knowing the story of Easter, nothing would indicate that this story was about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. While my children would catch the innuendoes in a heartbeat, I happen to know a dozen children our church ministers to on a weekly basis who would have no idea.
- There is no gospel presentation. The only reference to Jesus’ message is that it is a message of peace. Jesus’ message is not “a message of peace.” It is the message of salvation. Without this truth, there is no Easter story.
- The “miracle” presented in this story does not resemble any miracle in Scripture. While I fully believe in a God of miracles and that He can perform whatever miracle He chooses, I like to be careful creating stories of miracles that don’t clearly line up with the God of the Bible.
As I said, this is a sweet retelling of a Polish folktale. And I like it for that reason. But, I wouldn’t recommend it as a tool for sharing the Easter story.
This book was sent to me by Kregel in exchange for my honest review.