Way Back Wednesday Essential Classic: The Easter Story
The Easter Story
By Brian Wildsmith
Holidays and holy days such as Christmas and Easter, present a constant conundrum for many young parents as they struggle to find a balance between the sacred and the secular in both celebrations that are huge in the yearly calendar of family-centered events.
With this in mind, here at The Snuggery, I try to find picture books for young families that, as each of these celebrations approaches, honor the secular, without sidestepping the religious aspects of both Easter and Christmas.
So, with that in mind, Brian Wildsmith’s The Easter Story, is a visually stunning and vibrant telling of the Easter Triduum, referring to the three day journey of Christians revisiting three of the holiest days in their calendar; Holy Thursday’s Last Supper, Good Friday’s Crucifixion and Holy Saturday’s, Laying in the Tomb, all culminating in the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.
Wildsmith begins the picture book with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem marked with the singing and swaying of hand-held palms by the welcoming crowds on Palm Sunday.
It relates in beautifully gold-toned paintings, one of the greatest seeming contradictions in religion: how a death on a cross can lead to redemption and eternal life. This book has a beautiful simplicity that will appeal to the youngest of picture book readers. And, it is a companion book to Wildsmith’s The Christmas Story that I have not read, but having seen The Easter Story, I will certainly read.
What makes this book accessible and appealing to young readers is a central figure in the story is a small donkey that carries Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. He is a witness to each and all of the events that follow. And at the end of the remarkable journey of both Jesus and the donkey, the friends of Jesus return the small animal to his home. He is filled with memories of the events he was part of over the remarkable three days, even as the reader finds those events will continue to find echoes through the centuries that follow.
Stories of tragedy and triumph are part of the everyday in stories splashed across media outlets each day. They all seem to meld together in our minds, or at least they do for me.
With the celebrations of Easter and Passover, it is an opportunity, for those for whom those celebrations are meaningful to mark tragedy and triumph as they are enfolded in rituals that are centuries old, yet continue to be celebrated within many families today. Anything that outlives the passage of time, that, after all is the great leveler, must have meaning in a society in constant fast forward mode that forgets in the blink of an eye.
Brian Wildsmith has presented such an event with extraordinary art and a simple narrative that some have termed, “the greatest story ever told.”
For young picture book readers and their parents, this is a wonderful rendering of that story, all seen through the eyes of a simple animal! Happy Easter!