Friday, April 10, 2020

The Easter Story (Retold by Russell Punter)

The Easter Story (Retold by Russell Punter)
The Easter Story as Retold by Russell Punter
I realize I'm late to get this review up but this COVID19 shelter-at-home order has me as busy as ever.  I think it's because all four of us are here all the time.  Everyone is chipping in and helping to take care of regular household chores but even though we are all adults here, it just seems like I'm still busy.  I guess the old saying is correct that a mother's work is never done.  As long as I have my husband and adult children around, quality time with them takes top priority and always will.  Today, we did something we've never done before.  We took part in a Good Friday Communion here at home.  This is something we usually do at church, but today we watched our pastor lead us in communion via video.  We are usually served unleavened bread and grape juice at church, but today we used regular bread and sparkling grape juice I had delivered to us from our local grocery store.  What we use isn't as important as the remembrance communion Jesus asked us to do.  If you would like to partake in your own communion at your home, you are invited to watch the same video we watched today.  Then, I want to tell you about a wonderful Easter story book for your children.

You are invited to partake in communion with us here.

The Easter Story as Retold by Russell Punter

The Easter story is one that I have read since early childhood.  I can still picture the little Sunday School room where I first learned who Jesus is.  I attend a large baptist church now, but my first memories of what we called Sunday School are from that little room in that little Methodist chapel that meant so much to my daddy's family.  My grandmother was the pianist there and some of my daddy's family sang in the choir.  It wasn't uncommon for me to step into the isle during church and prance my way up to the choir area so that I could sit near my grandmother as she played the piano.

Memories are precious, but back to the Easter story.  Many of us have been reading the story since childhood but it really isn't always the easiest story to tell to children.  As I sit here on this Good Friday, I'm reflecting back on the reality of what happened to Jesus.  It's a graphic story and one that is hard to explain to children in a way that they will understand and respect it without scaring them or leaving them with pictures in their minds that are too vivid and horrible for them to process at such a young age.  The Easter Story as retold by Russell Punter is a wonderful book that will help children understand the meaning of Jesus' betrayal, death, and resurrection in a child friendly story that they can read over and over again all year long.  Later on, parents or other caregivers can tell them more when they are old enough to understand all the details.

The Easter Story (Retold by Russell Punter)
The Easter Story as Retold by Russell Punter

The Easter Story is illustrated by John Joven.  The cover depicts the day Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Jesus arrives on a donkey while the people of Jerusalem cheer him on while waving palm branches.

Jesus enters Jerusalem.
Jesus' Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem
I know The Easter Story is a story about Jesus' betrayal, death, and resurrection, but I wish Punter had told children more about who Jesus is.  He introduces Jesus as a man who lived a long time ago and that Jesus told people about God's kingdom.  Children need to know that Jesus is God's only Son, not just a regular man.

Jesus shares "the last supper" with His disciples.
Jesus shares The Last Supper with His disciples.
The story tells children about what we have come to know as "The Last Supper."  Punter tells them that Jesus shared a meal with His friends and that Jesus asked them to remember Him. 

The Soldiers Come to Take Jesus Away
The Soldiers take Jesus away. / Jesus caries His cross.
Jesus' betrayal, scourging, and crucifixion are parts of the Easter story that can be troubling and even horrifying for some children.  Punter tells this part of the story in the most child friendly way possible.  Very young children don't need to know the most difficult and brutal details just yet.  They need to know what happened.  They need to know the reason Jesus suffered for you and for them.  The more brutal details can wait until they are old enough to handle them.

The stone is rolled away.
The stone is rolled away.
Now we get to the good part.  Children will read that Jesus' body was sealed into a tomb with a big stone.  Then comes Sunday!  The stone has been rolled away and Jesus' body is gone. 

Jesus lives!
Jesus lives forever!
The last page of the book tells children that Jesus is alive and He appeared to His friends several times before He rose up to Heaven.  The story tells children that Jesus will live forever.  I wish the story went on for one more page to tell children that this means they can live forever in Heaven with Jesus too.  This would lay a foundation for understanding salvation.

Although I feel like this book left out a few meaningful parts of the story, I do think it is a good Easter book that children will love.  Parents can fill in more details as the child grows in understanding and maturity.  

Of course, the actual Bible is the best source for children's Bible stories.  My first Bible was a full King James version of the Bible spanning from Genesis to Revelation.  I was so young when my parents gave it to me but I loved it.  I understood it because my parents took me to church when I was only days old.  I'm 50 years old now and I've rarely missed church (until now under shelter-in-place orders).  My parents did more than just take me to church.  They spent a lot of time reading the Bible with me.  We talked about the stories.  My parents and grandparents always discussed the Bible with me at age appropriate levels so that I grew into the deeper stories as I grew older.  I don't recall ever owning a shortened children's version of the Bible but I did have a Bible story book.  Now, there are so many options for young children.  It's OK if you want to start your younger children off with a children's version of the Bible, but they need to grow into a full version as soon as they can. 

Of course, stand alone Bible stories like this Easter Story are perfect for daytime story times, bed times, or to carry along for car rides, etc.  Any time you can help your child soak in stories from the Bible and absorb their meanings is important for building a foundation for application of Biblical principals to their own lives.  

I think your children will enjoy this story for many years to come.  Usborne books are well made.  As long as they aren't abused, they should last a very long time.  Maybe your child can someday pass the book along to his or her child.

The Easter Story as Retold by Russell Punter


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