Eggs in Easter celebrations have a long tradition. The early Christians in Mesopotamia would dye eggs red to remember the blood of Christ shed during the Crucifixion, and they have traditionally also symbolized the empty tomb during the Resurrection. The Germanic tribes used eggs as part of their celebration of the spring goddess Eostre whose symbol was a hare that laid eggs.
When the Dutch came to the New World they brought the tradition of the Oschter Haws, or Easter Hare, with them. If children had been good that year, tradition stated, the Oschter Haws would lay eggs for them to find.
It's between these conflicting facts that readers will have to navigate The Egg Tree. A church steeple appears in the background of one picture but that's the only reference to the actual point of Easter Sunday. The children in the story buy wholeheartedly into the tale of the Oschter Haws, and at one point they see a white hare in the grass which they assume is the Easter Rabbit.
And yet on the one hand it's a factual, interesting look at this Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. The children rise early to hunt for eggs, and when Katy (the main character) finds painted eggs in the attic it becomes a bonding moment between her and her grandmother. The children's grandmother is able to share some of her own heritage and childhood, and the family works together to create something beautiful, the titular egg tree. Not to mention the four color illustrations are lovely, bright as the eggs themselves which are decorated in detail like actual Easter eggs.
For some Pennsylvania Dutch, Easter was (and still is) more of a time to celebrate their own heritage than it was to celebrate Christ. Just something to keep in mind while reading this book to children. A little more supplementation may be necessary, but this could potentially lead to good discussions on the origins, celebrations, and meaning of Easter.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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