The book I bought for April is The Sparkle Egg, by Jill Hardie, illustrated by Christine Kornacki (Ideals, 2014).
Not an Easter book in the sense of telling the biblical story of Easter, The Sparkle Egg helps children understand the Easter message of forgiveness in a concrete way.
At the start of the book, Sam has failed a spelling test, and he’s worried about what his parents will say. He forgets about it after school while he’s coloring Easter eggs at home. But when Sam’s mom asks about the test, Sam lies and says he got a gold star. His parents discover the lie the next night at open house. They forgive him, and Sam asks God to forgive him too, but he still feels guilty.
On Good Friday, Sam decorates a plastic egg with glitter and jewels. Then his mom has him draw a picture of something he’s feeling ashamed or guilty about, and Sam draws a gold star. He folds up the paper and puts it inside the Sparkle Egg. His mom tells him, “When you wake up on Easter morning, there will be something special in your Sparkle Egg to honor Jesus.”
Sam is quite surprised on Easter morning when the Sparkle Egg is empty–empty like Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning! Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, sins can be forgiven and gone.
“Sam’s dad said, ‘Jesus loves us so much that He died on the cross for us. The greatest gift of Easter is the gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. God doesn’t want you to carry around guilt or feel ashamed–He wants you to feel His forgiveness in your heart.’ He said gently, ‘The best way we can honor Jesus’ gift of forgiveness is to fully accept it.’”I like the modern yet realistic illustrations in this book and the fact that there is an actual story line to follow–the text is not simply a conversation between Sam and his parents. The final page includes instructions for making and using your own Sparkle Egg.
If you read the book with older children, you might want to talk about why Sam lied in the first place, as well as your expectations regarding your child’s success or difficulties with schoolwork.
Like Sam, may your child (and maybe even you!) receive a fuller understanding of forgiveness so you can shine a little brighter for Jesus this Easter!