Title: Petook: An Easter Story
Illustrator: Tomie dePaola
Author: Caryll Houselander
Age Category: 3 to 5 years +
Genre: Picture Books
Creating good traditional Easter stories for children is difficult for a couple of reasons. First, the traditional story is quite violent, so a graphically illustrated version of the story could be quite shocking or disturbing for a young child. Second, the deep significance of the story can be pretty complicated for a young child, and so creating a picture book that tells the story in a way that is both true to New Testament theology and understandable for a young child is challenging.
Some picture books navigate these challenges by simply presenting the text from one (or several) of the Gospels along with illustrations that are not overly detailed. I think Easter: The King James Version, by Jan Pienkowski is a tasteful example of this approach. As the title suggests, Pienkowski just presents relevant parts of the King James text, which she illustrates using silhouettes so the pictures are not too gory.
However, as I see it, the trouble with Easter stories for children that take this approach is that Continue reading
Title: The Egg Tree
Author: Katherine Milhous
Age Category: 3 to 5 years +
Genre: Easter picture books
Easter is coming, and so I’ve been planning to review some Easter picture books. However, when I started looking around online and in the library for good titles, it seemed there really weren’t that many. Either I found a lot of “cute” but shallow books about eggs and bunnies—which I liken to marshmallow Peeps: sweet but not very nourishing—or I found illustrated versions of the New Testament text. Now, don’t get me wrong: marshmallow Peeps and the New Testament have their place; my kids will likely get a dose of both this Easter. However, in my view, neither make for particularly good picture books.
Now, thankfully there are a few good picture books for Easter out there, two of which I’ll share with you in this and the next post. The first one—1951 Caldecott Medal winner The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous—is only loosely connected with the biblical Easter tradition, as I will describe. In the next post I will review Petook: An Easter Story by Caryll Houselander and Tomie dePaola, which has a more direct connection with the traditional Easter story.
The Egg Tree, by Katherine Milhous: Summary
The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous is set in the Red Hills of Pennsylvania, in a rural Pennsylvania Dutch community. The picture book opens with two young children—Katy and Carl—spending their first Easter on their grandmother’s farm, along with four of their cousins. The children wake up early for an Easter egg hunt, but Katy can’t seem to find any eggs in her unfamiliar surroundings. Feeling discouraged, she makes her way up into the attic and, to her surprise, Continue reading