A Pennsylvania Dutch folk tale about the origin of the robin’s red breast is woven into a story of a girl and her grandmother preparing for Easter together.
This interpretation offers new illustrations for a work that was originally published as The Story of the Easter Robin and illustrated by Anna Vojtech (2010). The cheery, new cover shows a little blonde white girl and her appealing dog gazing out a window at a robin’s nest with five eggs (though the text clearly specifies four eggs). Tressa and her grandmother watch as a pair of robins builds a nest right outside their window in the days before Easter. Tressa worries about the safety of the eggs, and her grandmother reassures her repeatedly that God will take care of the robins. They make bird decorations from dyed eggs, and Gran tells Tressa a legend about robins and why their breasts are red. At the crucifixion of Jesus, a robin pulled a thorn out of Jesus’ forehead, and a drop of blood stained the bird’s breast. The illustrations of the girl and the grandmother are cheerful and contemporary, but the depictions of the robin at the crucifixion shift to a dark sepia palette with frightening overtones. Jesus is shown carrying the cross, wearing the crown of thorns, and a menacing hand with a whip strikes out at both Jesus and the robin. (Birders will quibble that the robin depicted in the crucifixion story is American, a geographical impossibility.) The relatively lengthy text veers from chipper to lugubrious, with a preachy tone overall.
Well-meant but heavy-handed. (author’s note) (Religion/picture book. 4-7)