I expected to like this series less than I do. The books are cute, after all, with talking polar bears and pastel palettes, and so I expected the content to be cute, too. But I have finally—after reading at least three of these books–realized that the content is more commendable than cute, more challenging than cuddly.
Before we go further, let me be clear: I don’t have anything against pastels or talking bears. I have nothing against Laura J. Bryant’s illustrations—in fact, I think they’re lovely. Her perspectives are unusual, her details vibrant, her use of patterns just right. But for some reason, when I first saw them I didn’t expect depth from the story: I expected sweetness. And so the depth, when I met it, was surprising.
Lisa Tawn Bergren uses the comforting structure of a child’s conversation with a parent to unearth deep truths—like where babies come from (in God Gave Us You) or what love is (in God Gave Us Love).
In God Gave Us Easter, her characters discuss Easter, yes, but they also discuss the gospel. And death. And prayer. The conversation dives into those deeper subjects while still meandering in the way that conversations with small children do. Somehow, Bergren hits those two notes—theology and simplicity—just right.
God Gave Us Easter was a welcome addition to our family’s collection of Easter books—it balances out our many retellings of the events Holy Week by delving into not the “what,” but the “why” and “how” of Easter, and it does that by zooming in on what the Resurrection means for one family, one child.
One note: this book does present the gospel from the perspective of polar bears in such a way that it might be tempting to think that the author intended, in some literal sense, to imply that Christ’s atoning death applies to polar bears, too. Because the bears also talk and dye Easter eggs and behave in other un-bearlike ways, I didn’t take it that way, and I don’t think my children did, either. If it comes up, I figure it makes for an interesting conversation with the kids, that’s all. But it is a point worth mentioning.
God Gave Us Easter
Lisa Tawn Bergen, Laura J. Bryant (2013)