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Hoppy Easter

Easter’s almost here! This updated Easter recommended reading list has selections suitable for both secular and religious celebrations of the holiday.

 

Preschool

dunrea_ollie's easter eggsIn Ollie’s Easter Eggs, Olivier Dunrea’s lovable goslings celebrate Easter by dyeing and hiding eggs. That is, except for little Ollie, who steals all the eggs, whispering “my egg” each time he unearths one. In the end, it turns out his intentions are good. The illustrations as charming as ever, and Gossie fans will enjoy seeing all the birds together in one board book. (Houghton, 2010)

Little White Rabbit

The titular bunny of Kevin Henkes’s Little White Rabbit has limitless curiosity and imagination to match. In this board-book edition, square-bordered pictures of the energetic bunny face clean white pages with a simple line or two, in which the rabbit “wonder[s] what it would be like to be…” just about everything. Alternating full-spread illustrations depict his rich inner life. Bold lines, expressive movement, and a springtime palette will delight the child’s eye. (Greenwillow, 2014)

tudor_tale for easterOriginally published in 1941, this new board-book version  of Tasha Tudor’s simply told, delicately illustrated A Tale for Easter [Classic Board Books series] evokes a time gone by as it celebrates the pleasures of the holiday and the possibilities of spring. A little girl notices all the signs that Easter is near: dress hemming, hot cross buns, and dreams about rabbits and lambs. Easter morning itself might bring “colored eggs,” “a basket of ducklings,” even “a bunny in Grandma’s rocking chair” — “anything might happen on Easter.” (Little Simon, 2014)

stalder_ernest's first easterPäivi Stalder’s Ernest’s First Easter follows amateur Easter Bunny Ernest, who struggles to find the perfect place to hide his eggs. With the help of a new, if unlikely, canine friend, he scores the best hiding spot yet. Ernest’s efforts make a memorable Easter for one little boy. Frauke Weldin’s soft, rich illustrations reflect the book’s seasonal sentiment. (North-South, 2010)

thomas_easter bunny's assistantThe Easter Bunny’s Assistant by Jan Thomas finds the Easter Bunny demonstrating how to make Easter eggs with the help of his assistant, Skunk. Unfortunately, when Skunk gets excited he emits his odoriferous trademark smell. Heavy black lines complement the bold color illustrations; the use of word bubbles in this book will produce a lot of laughs at storytime. Directions for making Easter eggs are appended. (HarperCollins/Harper, 2012)

underwood_here comes the easter catIn Deborah Underwood’s witty Here Comes the Easter Cat, Cat is unhappy about the Easter Bunny’s arrival. The text addresses jealous Cat directly, and he responds using placards, humorous expressions, and body language. Illustrator Claudia Rueda expertly uses white space and page turns to focus attention on Cat and the repartee. Underwood’s knowledgeable authorial voice and Rueda’s loosely sketched, textured ink and colored-pencil illustrations make this an entertaining tale. (Dial, 2014)

vail_piggy bunnyPig Liam’s parents aren’t exactly thrilled with his aspirations in Rachel Vail’s Piggy Bunny: “Hello, my name is Liam and I’ll be your Easter Bunny.” His big sister has even less patience: “You are a piglet…Deal with it.” Fortunately, Liam’s grandparents (and the Internet) lend a hand in this laugh-out-loud celebration of individuality and imagination. Eye-catching illustrations by Jeremy Tankard feature bold black outlines and whimsical touches (Dad sports a handlebar mustache). (Feiwel, 2012)

 

Primary

cazet_minnie and moo attack of the easter bunniesYoungsters learning to read have spent many a holiday with cows Denys Cazet’s Minnie and Moo [I Can Read Book series]. In Minnie and Moo: The Attack of the Easter Bunnies, the two discover the farmer doesn’t want to dress up like the Easter Bunny for his grandchildren. So they fashion their own parade with all the animals joining in. Cazet’s illustrations add visual humor to the cows’ deadpan delivery as they try to explain their convoluted version of Easter. (HarperCollins, 2004)

grambling_here comes t. rex cottontailPeter Cottontail is sick, so T. Rex volunteers to deliver his eggs. But costume ears, bunny slippers, and a fake cottontail may not be enough to complete his transformation, especially when he smashes all the eggs. T. Rex and his friends find a solution just in time. Lively cartoon drawings by Jack E. Davis illustrate Lois G. Grambling’s Here Comes T. Rex Cottontail, an energetic tale about creative persistence. (HarperCollins/Tegen, 2007)

grun_jesusIn German import Jesus, Anselm Grün retells the life of Jesus by smoothly combining stories and phrases from all four Gospels into one linear narrative. Readers are introduced to two miracles and one parable before reading of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Giuliano Ferri’s soft paintings have an earthy, gentle feel emphasizing, like the text, the humanity of Jesus. (Eerdmans, 2014)

country bunny goldenBunny Cottontail longs to be an Easter bunny in DuBose Heyward’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, originally published in 1939. And even though Cottontail becomes the mother of twenty-one bunnies — or perhaps because of the kind of mother she is — she gets her wish at last. A story kids will enjoy chiefly for Marjorie Flack’s illustrations drawn to a small child’s taste. This edition includes a little golden shoes necklace. (Houghton, 2010)

joslin_on that easter morningMary Joslin retells the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection in On That Easter Morning, beginning when Jesus enters Jerusalem for Passover. Joslin successfully weaves together the stories from the four Gospels into a coherent and understandable narrative for young readers. Helen Cann’s decorative illustrations set the time and place. (Good Books, 2006)

pachkis_p. zonka lays an eggA hen named P. Zonka is dismissed by the other chickens as a dreamer; she’s more concerned with flowers, clouds, and the colors of the sky than with laying eggs. Cajoled into trying it, P. Zonka finally succeeds, but her egg surprises everyone. Julie Paschkis’s P. Zonka Lays an Egg gives one possible (and humorous) explanation behind the tradition of those beautiful Ukrainian pysanky. Her watercolors, filled with repeated patterns and a beautiful use of black outlines, seem to pop off the pages. (Peachtree, 2015)

paterson_light of the worldKatherine Paterson’s graceful text for The Light of the World: The Life of Jesus for Children relates the major events of the life and death of Jesus in simple, accessible language while preserving the central metaphors of the New Testament. François Roca’s elegant, glowing compositions, showcased in the book’s large square pages, echo these images. Writer and illustrator lend their crafts to an earnest and artful expression of faith. (Scholastic/Levine, 2008)

stoeke_minerva louise and the colorful eggsMinerva Louise the hen, star of Janet Morgan Stoeke’s Minerva Louise and the Colorful Eggs, gets worried when she finds oddly colored eggs scattered around the farm. To her relief, a group of “farmers” (laughing children) begins gathering them up. As usual with Minerva Louise’s amusing adventures, readers can revel in their superior knowledge; simple illustrations, featuring flat spring colors and an expressive black line, show an Easter egg hunt in progress. (Dutton, 2006)

wallace_easter bunny bluesTwo dogs work quickly to make a plan when the Easter Bunny comes down with the flu a week before the holiday in Carol Wallace’s Easter Bunny Blues [Holiday House Readers series]. Thanks to the chickens’ eggs, the birds’ gathered berries, the squirrels’ tails (as paint brushes) — and a last-minute rally from the bunny himself — they manage to save Easter. This lively story about cooperation features Steve Björkman’s spirited illustrations of helpful animals. (Holiday, 2009)

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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