You are in: surefish
> Easter books
Date: 5 April, 2004
order any of the titles, and raise money for Christian Aid,
simply click on the title or cover of the book
Charlotte Haines Lyon recommends Easter books for adults and Andy
Jackson chooses his favourite Easter books for children.
To order any of the titles,
and raise money for Christian Aid, simply click on the title or
cover of the book.
To jump to the books for kids, click
Now and Then
Richard Burridge and Graham
Gould, SPCK £9.99
Feeling a little bit overwhelmed by all those long theological words
that some people on surefish use? Worry ye not, this book not only
explores Christian thought about Jesus but uses nice clear boxes
to explain theological jargon and the role of historical figures.
As we contemplate who Jesus really was, Burridge and Gould introduce
us to the Jesus of history. This is not just historical writings
at the time of his life, but also how Jesus has been thought of
through the different centuries.
We are then treated to an analysis of the Gospels and what we can
learn from each writer. The same approach is taken to Paul and other
New Testament views of Jesus. The book tries to encapsulate as many
understandings of Jesus as possible, making for a lively and provoking
Modern conservative opinions sit alongside post-modern and radical
outlooks, enabling the reader to develop a much deeper knowledge
of the man so central to their faith.
Hume: A Spiritual Companion; Reflections through the year
Lion Publishing £6.99
Starting in Lent, but ending in Epiphany this really is a year round
treasure. Writings - many previously unpublished, of the late beloved
Cardinal Hume, have been brought together to inspire, challenge
After an explanation of Holy Week, there are short meditations and
prayers for each day up to Good Friday. Unlike many lent books,
Easter does not end with the resurrection on the Sunday, rather
readings are provided through the whole season up until Pentecost.
Even the most tentative of enquirers cannot fail to be moved by
the stunning prose of the Cardinal. His writing on suffering and
death is the least smug and patronising I have read in a long time.
If only all church leaders could write with such humility and grace.
of Praise, The Nation's Favourite Hymns
Andrew Barr, Lion Publishing,
The nation's top 40 hymns have been set to history, mini biographies
and vivid anecdotes from various editions of Songs of Praise. My
favourite, Make Me a Channel of Your Peace, is accompanied by the
story of St Francis and Daniel O'Donnell's thoughts after singing
it in the Albert Hall.
And did you know that the hymn Lord Jesus Christ (Living Lord) was
inspired by Cliff Richard's Living Doll? It is not just old hymns
and songs from the fifties. Shine Jesus Shine is in at number 20,
and apparently Graham Kendrick attributes the song's popularity
to his listening to the Beatles on pirate radio as a child - alongside
Godly inspiration of course.
The story of pompous bishops in Westminster Abbey being taught the
song by some of the poorest parishes in the country, actually gave
me some respect for the song. Lit beautifully with inspirational
photographs, including one of Diego Velazquez's painting of the
crucifixion, it is a gift for all hymn lovers.
Michael Arditti, Arcadia,
An epic tale of church life highlights the Easter story in the everyday.
A child suffers the stigma of AIDs; the gay curate is dealing with
loneliness after the death of his partner whilst Huxley the vicar,
is trying to hold his crumbling church together.
Although this is a piece of fiction, I am sure Arditti has based
it on my old church. Okay, we didn't have a wayward donkey during
the Palm Sunday service. Nor as far as I know, a rather perverse
Archdeacon but the usual church suspects are all there.
Why do we suffer? How can we be compassionate to those we disagree
with? What is the meaning of sacrifice and Easter for modern day
society? Such questions are asked throughout the book, culminating
in a meditation on how the resurrection is acted out in individual
Be warned that there is some fairly graphic sex, but the dilemmas
and anguish that surround it justify its presence. One scene is
particularly heartbreaking and demands compassion. Arditti has exposed
the fears, phobias and prejudices that vie for attention as Christians
attempt to follow Christ.
Simon Blackburn, Oxford University
This is the third in OUP's series, The Seven Deadly Sins, which
asks popular philosophical writers to probe the likes of Sloth,
Greed and of course Lust. With delicious humour Blackburn rescues
lust from the grasps of the early church and moral majority.
Analysing the intricacies of sex, he concludes that lust is not
the unhealthy, evil sin that we have been brought up to condemn.
Not that he is encouraging as all to lust after power, or people,
but to engage intelligently with sexual desire. Neither is it sex,
sex, sex, as some readers may worry.
Blackburn also criticises the objectification of women and men in
modern culture and explores how sex has become a commodity. Elegantly
written, Lust earns its place in the set of gift books for critical
JG Ballard, Flamingo, £16.99
For those who have read all the Lent books this year and just want
to switch off on Easter Monday, treat yourself to a harsh satire.
Psychologist David Markham is drawn into a group of middleclass
protestors after his wife has been killed in a terrorist bomb.
Far from solidarity with poor or fighting for the environment, this
bunch of professionals are in a violent battle for their own interests.
Apparently trapped between the poor and the stonkingly rich, they
are fed up with paying their taxes, being "forced" to pay for private
schooling and other such stresses. They are supposedly battling
to free themselves from the chains of respectability.
Sympathy waxes and wanes with their arguments, and it is easy to
dismiss the scenario as humorous fairytale. However the glimpses
into the terrorist mind are only too real. It is disturbing to see
how difficult it is to turn off the road to destruction, once self-serving
attitudes engulf us.
Books for kids
G Are You Listening?
This is a wonderful book for teenagers by a teenager called "Davina".
The book is the private diary of Kat, and starts on January 1 with
New Year celebrations. It's a light-hearted read - "Monday 5 January:
Back to school - Argh!" but serious issues are tackled: the arrest
of a man hanging around Kat's school and the death of her grandfather
are just two.
My only gripe is that Kat is meant a few years younger than the
author but Davina's use of language gives the impression that it's
been written by someone older. But then, I'm an adult and I suppose
teenagers won't care what I think and love this book.
Angels All Around
Ask a child to draw an angel and you know what he or she will come
up with - a pure white cassock, wings and a halo. But
popular children's author Bob Hartman questions that stereotype
with his version of Biblical tales, Angels, Angels All Around.
He adds an angel to each of his stories, like the angel of fire
protecting Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in King Nebuchadnezzar's
furnace, based on the story in the book of Daniel.
Ten tales in all, each ending with a historical
description of actual events, where in the Bible you can read the
original and some words for children to think about.
Jesus @ Anytime
"Let's imagine that Jesus was teaching today," begins Hilary Robinson's
Email Jesus @ Anytime. In this modern translation of the story of
Christ, Robinson imagines that the news of Jesus spreads around
the world thanks to the internet and that a world tour takes place.
But then the press publishes reports from
false witnesses and the website is destroyed by hackers. Christ
dies but four authors write about his life and the books become
bestsellers. A good book (no pun intended) that will make kids and
Father - The prayer Jesus taught
A beautiful book by Mary Joslin with wonderful illustrations by
Gail Newey. The Lord's Prayer is explored bit by bit using poetry
and verses from the Bible.
Very First Bible
How do you condense the story of Abraham into 12 pages? Well, by
using short sentences, easy to understand language and lots of colourful
pictures. Lion's My Very First Bible is a fantastic introduction
to both Testaments from Lois Rock and illustrator Alex Aycliffe.
The nastier parts of the Bible are missed out (such as the Angel
of Death killing Egypt's first born sons and Herod ordering the
death of babies) but Jesus being crucified is not. This would make
a wonderful Easter gift to a toddler who likes a bedtime story or
and Prayers for a Better World
Su Box and Felicity Henderson collated this anthology of poems and
prayers from people of all ages wanting to make the world a better
The book includes pieces by Mother Teresa, Christina Rossetti and
DH Lawrence as well as traditional verses from all corners of the
globe. Simple line drawings accompany the text that, if your child
is old enough, could be coloured in.
Lord is my Shepherd: Psalm 23 for children
Lois Rock retells the story of David for a younger audience. Psalm
23 is broken up and simply explained, with later pages including
prayers that relate to that particular part of the Psalm.
Goodbye is For Ever
This is an ideal book to give to a child dealing with bereavement.
The book starts with a simple explanation of what goodbye means,
placing into an everyday context.
Then the book moves on to permanent goodbyes, starting with losing
a friend because she's moving away, and then the main section of
the book that deals with the death of a grandparent. Very well constructed
and beautifully illustrated, this book will be a great help to youngsters
coming to terms with the loss of a relative.
- The Everlasting Story
From Palm Sunday to Pentecost, this book retells events from the
Gospels in a moving and accessible style. Christina Balit's illustrations
add to the drama and pathos of the book.
This series of books introduces older toddlers to Jesus, the Bible,
God and prayer. Each book is nicely condensed and will take no more
than a few minutes' to read. A simple series that can be used as
part of a 'beginner's basics' for children. To buy the other titles,
click on one of the links below.
About the Bible