Author: Danielle Hitchen
Author Website: http://www.catechesisbooks.com/
Illustrator: Jessica Blanchard
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Word Count: 448
This story is perfect for ages: 0-2, 2-4
Straight from Aunty LuLav
Holy Week is a beautifully illustrated board book covering the days and events of Holy Week. The book is intended to be a primer to teach emotions, and ties each event, to the prevailing emotion felt by the characters at that moment.
Holy Week starts with the Triumphal Entry and ends with Jesus and the disciples in the Upper Room. Danielle Hitchen includes scripture for each scene staying true to the Biblical account.
Scriptural Underpinnings & Positive Themes
What I love about this book, is the scriptural retelling and accuracy of the text. Scripture is quoted and cited in each scene. This is not a loose translation or vague paraphrase. Well done!
This book is ALSO a primer to teach young ones to identify emotions. The author cleverly uses the events of Holy Week to do so. The illustrations nicely zero-in on the moment and the emotions felt by each character.
Ms. Hitchen founded Catechesis Books to teach Christian fundamentals of faith to young children. Holy Week is one in a series of “primers” in the Baby Believer Series of Board Books.
The illustrations are lovely in deep jewel tones. The Garden of Gethsemane, the Cross and the Tomb are all very dark in blacks, grays and deep purples, reflecting the emotion of the scene.
When the women discover the empty tomb and Jesus appears in the upper room to the disciples, the tones shift to yellows, greens, and oranges, and are bright and happy.
I love the illustration of the women as they arrive and find an empty tomb. Their expressions are priceless!
The author and illustrator really honored the Jewishness of Jesus in this book. Jesus, the disciples, and the women disciples, are all darker skin tones. Pontious Pilate and the Roman guards are lighter skin tones and dressed appropriately as Romans.
Passover is called Passover, not the Last Supper – Thank You Ms. Hitchen!
Here is my struggle!
A board book is usually intended for the youngest of audiences – 0-2, possibly 3 years of age at the most. Holy Week is a board book, yet the concepts of the events of holy week, and the level of vocabulary used to describe those events are for a much older audience, I would say 3-5 years old.
For this reason, I feel like it’s a pair of mismatched socks – a baby board book and the complexities of the text. Both socks are really nice socks, they just don’t go together.
Being an emotional primer, emotions such as “frustrated” or “overwhelmed” are far above the language capacity and the conceptual ability of a 0-2 year old.
Likewise, the word count is 448, which by today’s standards, is considered too high for a 0-2 years old child.
I wish they had published this as a regular picture book, as it is more accessible for an older child. The parents of an older child, may not consider a board book, assuming it is too simplistic. They may lose an audience.
I feel like the “sweet spot” is for a 3-5 year old.
The End of the Matter3/5 waves
Overall – a good book!
I wave the Lulav three times for Holy Week,
and hope they will republish for the older audience!