Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review of The Easterville Miracle by Melody Carlson

I was sent the book titled, The Easterville Miracle, to review as part of the book review program through Broadman and Holman Publishing Group. I don't know about you, but I am always on the lookout for great holiday gift books. I search for Bible-centered books with age appropriate content. This book fits the bill. The Easterville Miracle is a 32-page children's hardcover book written by Melody Carlson that should definitely be considered as an Easter gift option. Another popular and well-loved Easter book written by this author is Benjamin's Box: The Story of the Resurrections Eggs.

Book Description (Taken from the Website)
When surrounded by brightly colored eggs, fuzzy chicks, and chocolate bunnies, it's easy to forget what Easter is truly about. It's no surprise that the villagers in Easterville have completely lost sight of the reason behind their celebrations. But when a curious boy visits a wise old man, they join forces to create a visual reminder that will show the townsfolk of Easterville the true meaning of Easter. Just as a little boy named Sam and an old man named Henry remind the town of Easterville, the best-selling author Melody Carlson reminds us as well that the true meaning of Easter is not Easter bonnets, baskets, colored eggs, candy, or decorations. It is the glorious story of a cross on a hill and an empty tomb, and the wonderful news of forgiveness that the Easter story brings us.

About the Author
Melody Carlson has written over 100 books covering a wide range of topics including those of serious nature to more light hearted topics. Click on the link above to learn more about the author and her books.

Broadman and Holman Publishers $12.99
Christianbook $9.99
Amazon $11.15

Note: Prices are subject to change.

My Thoughts
I enjoy reading books to my daughter that emphasize the true meaning of Easter rather than simply focusing on Easter eggs and bunnies. I was ecstatic when I found out this book could be added to my collection of Easter books, because it does focus on the real reason for celebrating Easter.

The brightly colored cover invites the reader to open the book to Susan Reagan's sweet illustrations. The illustrations added meaning to the text. The illustrator made use of the space with full page illustrations. You could feel the confusion Sam felt through his words and the illustrations helped you see it on his face. The rhyming text of the story immediately captured the attention of my six-year-old daughter keeping her completely engaged in the story's plot. I often paused momentarily to give my daughter time to figure out the upcoming rhyming words.

The setting of the story occurs in a quaint town called Easterville, but unfortunately the townsfolk are having a difficult time remembering how and why the town was given that particular name. The Easter celebration became a huge event every year. The children dressed up for the occasion, colorful eggs were displayed, fluffy stuffed bunnies sat in storefront windows, delicious shaped chocolates stood in rows, and beautiful baskets adorned with bows were exhibited in the town stores. The townspeople believed they were in fact celebrating Easter the right way. For some reason, the holiday became more and more hectic over the years. Sam decided to seek help. He wanted to find an answer to the question he'd asked everyone he knew, "What is the point of Easter? The cause for all we do." He truly believed that there must be a reason for the things they did to mark the Easter season. An older woman tells him "Back when I was a little girl, it wasn't quite this way. It seems that something has been lost about this holiday." The woman suggests that Sam visit an older man named Henry who lives at the top of the hill. He feels reassured and makes the trip up the hill hoping to find answers.

Sam helps Henry create a plan to share the truth with the townspeople which in turn helps awaken their hearts and minds enabling them to see the truth once again. "And look at how it glistens just like diamonds in the sun!" I loved the descriptive language utilized which helps the reader visualize the image on the page.

I am not going to spoil the end by telling you what happens. You'll have to read the book to find out what the crowd of whispering townsfolk are talking about. What was Sam and Henry's plan?

Sam's strong desire to figure out the reason they celebrate Easter lead to the truth which left the townspeople eager to hear an unforgettable story year after year. I can relate to Sam's feelings, because many people in our society have truly forgotten why we actually celebrate Easter even though there's nothing wrong with bunnies and eggs. Commercialism has distracted us from focusing on Jesus. We don't eliminate the Easter egg hunts or Easter baskets from our traditions, but we do emphasize the "real" reason in many ways. We should celebrate Jesus, His sacrifice for us, and the forgiveness of our sins. Your children will learn about God's love, grace, and forgiveness. They will find out the purpose of Easter. My favorite part of the story is when Henry tells the story to Sam on page 20.

The book ends with a scripture reference to John 3:16 (NIV) stating "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." This familiar and appropriate verse was the perfect way to end the story, because it helps readers focus on the true meaning of Easter which was Jesus's resurrection and His sacrifice for our sins.

I recommend this book for children ages 4-8. It would make a great Easter basket gift or can be used as a read aloud. The book emphasizes the Christian perspective and reasons for celebrating Easter. I believe Christian readers will appreciate the message of the story. Sunday school and private school teachers will be pleased with this book. Home and private school educators can easily tie in religious Easter crafts to this story. The Easterville Miracle will help you shift the attention to the true meaning of Easter.

I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the B and H Publishing Group Book Review Program in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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