Reviews for Simon and the Easter Miracle

Kirkus Reviews 2012 April #1
This unusual interpretation of the Easter story focuses not on Jesus, but on Simon of Cyrene, whose story is included in the Synoptic gospels. In simple language and with just a few sentences on each page, the narrative spotlight shines on Simon the farmer as he takes his produce to market on Good Friday. Armed guards in the street order Simon to carry a cross for an unnamed prisoner, who thanks Simon for his assistance. Simon hurries back to the market, with the crucifixion scene shown in the distance against a background of gray clouds. Simon's produce is ruined except for a dozen eggs, which he finds on Sunday morning, broken open and empty. Twelve doves of peace circle over Simon's head, and he recognizes that a miracle must have taken place, though what that is left open to interpretation. The short, touching story, with just an allusion to the cruelty of the crucifixion, can serve as an introduction to the Easter story for younger children. Uncomplicated illustrations in glowing jewel tones are large enough to be seen in a group storytime setting. This quiet, gentle story fills a need for Easter-themed stories that go beyond bunnies and Easter baskets. (Picture book/religion. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2012 May

K-Gr 2--Joslin uses Christian imagery and simple, elegant prose to flesh out the Gospel's one-line story of Simon of Cyrene, chosen at random by Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry his cross. Simon is on his way to sell his wine, bread, and eggs at market, trying unsuccessfully to avoid the violent ruckus surrounding the crucifixion. Commanded to help, he puts aside his wares, shoulders the burden, and is touched by Jesus's humble nature. Returning to market, he finds his bread trampled and his wine spilt; there remain a dozen eggs, which he takes home and stores in a shed. So far, the narrative has offered a gentle retelling with some simple symbolism for children to unearth. But the story becomes confusing when later, on Sunday (Easter), Simon returns to the shed to find the eggs broken open and empty (read here: empty tomb), making the unclear statement, "The eggs are…empty. They weren't eggs for hatching." Still curious, he is met with a dozen white doves, their presence somehow alerting him to a miracle. The last page of text continues onto the endpapers, where the warm sun brings an early spring. Readers understand that all of these things are connected to the Resurrection, but the clunky ending doesn't tie any of the images together. Luraschi's drawings are a fine complement to this uneven story. Caryl Houselander's Petook, an Easter Story (Holiday House, 1988) does a better job of illustrating the impact of Jesus on characters who don't know exactly what they have experienced.--Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC

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