“Jesus is dead,” Joey said to me, several times over the span of a few months. I always answered gently, “No, He’s not. He was killed on the cross, but then He rose again and went up to heaven.” I can understand the confusion for him, as he sees Jesus on a crucifix at church each Sunday and tries to sort out the story. Sometimes, it’s hard to explain complicated theological ideas to our children. That’s why I love books like Gracie Jagla’s God the Father and the Best Day Ever.
I received this book for review courtesy of the author; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
God the Father and the Best Day Ever
The story begins on Easter Sunday, as people gather around an Easter fire outside a church. The night is dark, the fire is bright, and the narrator asks us, “You’ve heard Easter’s story; you know how it goes. Christ died for our sins and on Easter he rose.” For many of us adults, the story has become old and well-known; for many of our children, it may be hard to put together all the pieces of the story to thoroughly understand the significance of this special day.
Just as the readings at the Easter vigil Mass go back to Genesis, so does God the Father and the Best Day Ever. We see God’s “grand work of art” as He “made us a home where we could be with him and happily roam.” And then sin closes heaven’s gate… but God has a plan. He doesn’t want to be separated from the people He’s created, the people He loves. And so He promises, “I’ll join you below, then you’ll join me above!”
When Jesus conquers the tomb on Easter morning, He also opens the gate to heaven. Heaven is filled with rejoicing, and God bends down and “with tender embrace kissed every head and each smiling face.” His children are home and His joy will never fade away.
The story then returns to the church, as we participate in God’s promise that we can join His saints in heaven. This is why Easter matters.
The inspiration for this book came while I was sitting in adoration a few years ago. I was praying about Heaven, trying to visualize it and feeling disappointed that it wasn’t a place I was excited to go. I asked God for the grace to fall more in love with Heaven. ~ Gracie Jagla
My thoughts on this Easter story
With easy to understand verses poetic imagery, Gracie Jagla explains Easter in a way kids of all ages will understand. She helps adults see the story anew. This story really captures God’s father heart, His desire for His children to be with Him. We see how God is saddened by sin and so happy when we are able to join Him in heaven.
The illustrations that go with this book really capture the joy and wonder of the story. Some pages are dark, some pages are bright. The details of each picture add beautiful to the poetry of the story. My favourite illustration is probably the one used on the front cover, showing God’s great joy. So often we get caught up in the Ten Commandments, the must-do’s of our faith, and forget the relationship. God the Father and the Best Day Ever really captures that relationship which God desires to have with us and the extent to which He’s willing to go to open heaven’s gates.
This is one of the stories I turn to with my younger children, to read over and over again to explain to them the mystery of each Mass and especially of Easter. It’s been a long time since Joey has said to me, “Jesus is dead,” so I hope that he finally understands Jesus has risen. The story didn’t end on Good Friday.
The other day, as we left church, he told me, “Jesus is bread.” We had a great discussion about that, though I had to convince him that the soldiers did not literally chop up Jesus’ body to make the bread. Maybe the concept of transubstantiation is too much for a three-year-old, but he’s on the right track! I’m grateful to books like God the Father and the Best Day Ever to help us have these deep theological discussions—as his level.
More about Gracie Jagla
Gracie is a wife and mom who loves books and chocolate. Before marriage, she worked at a pro-life pregnancy centre. Her stories were inspired by a desire to have good stories to read to her own children. She tries to do her writing in prayer or before the Blessed Sacrament and loves doing readings for kids in schools. Gracie is also the author of The Night the Saints Saved Christmas, a fun-filled Christmas book about many favourite saints.
God the Father and the Best Day Ever is available from Amazon and Our Sunday Visitor, as well as your favourite Catholic bookstores. See Gracie read her book aloud to preview the story with your children!
What cute things have your children said about Mass or your faith?