Review: The King of Easter

The King of Easter (A FatCat Book), Nathasha Kennedy (Art), Todd R. Hains (Text). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2023.

Summary: The story of Easter, focusing on the risen Jesus who seeks and saves the lost.

The latest children’s book in Lexham’s FatCat Books explores the significance of Easter, focusing on the risen Lord Jesus who searches for lost people to bring his life, forgiveness, and salvation. On the first spread, we see Jesus and FatCat at an empty table with the declaration:

Jesus is the King of Easter!   
He finds who is lost.      
Who is lost, he saves

On each succeeding spread we see one or more New Testament characters beginning with Mary, the mother of Jesus, John the Baptist, Matthew, the children, Zacchaeus, Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, the thief and the centurion at the cross, Peter, and Saul. After identifying them, the text asks:

did the King of Easter find and save him/her/them?

As each is found and saved by Jesus, they join the entourage of those following Jesus. The narrative concludes with “you” and the joyous news that the King of Easter finds and saves us, with all of us gathered at that once empty table, with Jesus–and FatCat!

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb (image from publisher’s website)

Once again Natasha Kennedy provides the lush artwork and Todd R. Hains the text in this beautifully illustrated book designed for families to talk together about what Easter really means. I do have one small observation about the artwork. Jesus, while darkly complected, which is culturally accurate, also seems unnaturally skinny with a long, thin face (and a halo), unlike most of the other male characters. We don’t know what Jesus looked like but I wouldn’t mind a portrayal of a hearty, robust construction worker or carpenter–a workingman.

Each of the books in this series is written and designed for family worship with the conviction that “families are little churches.” The last pages of the book include pictures of each of the people in the story and where they appear in the biblical text, guided prayer for use in family devotions, and a “To Parents” section summarizing the message of the story.

The focus of the story is Jesus’s saving work, his initiative to seek and to save the lost. The response of those who follow (everyone in the story) is assumed. Unlike many presentations of the gospel, this centers entirely on the gracious and powerful work of Jesus to save. For children, it strikes me that this tremendously assuring–there is no question of them wondering if they have been good enough or believed enough. He has found and saved everyone in the story–including you!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Easter Memories


Sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains (c) 2014, Robert C Trube

Easter memories from childhood…

–Cleaning the house from top to bottom on Saturday.

–Helping dad wash the car–for me it was usually scrubbing the white wall tires and hubcaps.

–Taking Easter food to church on Holy Saturday to be blessed (my wife’s family).

–Getting haircuts at Jerry the Barber’s.

–The Saturday night bath before Easter–scrub behind the ears real good!

–The Easter bunny couldn’t hold a candle to Santa Claus.

–Coloring eggs and writing your name or “Happy Easter” in wax that would appear magically when you dyed them.

–Easter egg hunts.


–Finding an Easter basket waiting for you on Easter morning–fake grass, yellow cellophane, funky colored basket but chocolate bunnies, eggs, jelly beans and more–all good!

–Only being allowed one piece of candy before breakfast and church–not so good.

–Sunrise services. Sometimes outdoors. Chilly sometimes but loved the play on the idea of sunrise and the Son’s rising! Favorite time was gathering with a youth group in Mill Creek Park.

–Getting dressed for church in your Easter best. Still remember my blue blazer with a “coat of arms” on the pocket. Cool!

–When you got older, looking at all the girls who always seemed to dress up much better than us boys.

–Easter services. Along with Christmas, the most joyful music of the year. The black drape on the cross replaced with white. Saying, almost shouting together, “He is risen! He is risen, indeed!”

–Easter dinner. Ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole. Family gatherings. Going for a walk afterward around the block to work off a full stomach. More Easter candy.

–Going out to Daffodil Hill on Lake Newport. The air so fresh and everything looks and smells new as the trees are budding out, the grass greening up.

–Putting the basketball away and getting out my baseball glove. Batter up!

–With the coming of spring, realizing only a couple more months until school is out.

On so many levels Easter was about coming back to life. Of course, there was the event of Christ rising from the dead that all Christians celebrated–Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox (not always on the same date). But there was also the marvelous sense of the world coming alive again after what seemed like endless winter. All of this is what I still love about Easter.

What are your Easter memories?

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Easter Weekend

Daffodils at Lake Newport April 1968. Photo courtesy of Marilyn Trube, used with permission.

Daffodils at Lake Newport April 1968. Photo courtesy of Marilyn Trube, used with permission.

I will be spending today much like we spent the Saturday before Easter when I was growing up in Youngstown. The Saturday before Easter was the time we cleaned the house top to bottom, particularly if we were having guests–dusting, vacuuming, cleaning our rooms, washing all our good dishes for the Easter dinner. If the weather permitted, we were out cleaning up the yard from the winter debris of leaves and branches. And dad would be out washing the car. You couldn’t go to church all dressed up for Easter in a dirty car. Dad would wash, wax, and polish up the chrome (yes, real chrome) from the pitting of winter. As a kid, I get assigned to washing the wheel covers and scrubbing the white wall tires.

Easter was the time when I got a new set of clothes for church, mostly because I’d outgrown the old ones. That meant a new shirt and slacks, and a new sport jacket. We dressed for church. I remember the parents saying you wanted to look your best for God. (As I got older I have to admit that I was often far more interested in looking good for the girls in church!) Women bought new hats and the girls new bonnets as well as Easter dresses.

At the end of the day, the clothes were laid out and it was time for the Saturday night bath before going to bed. With all that work, I usually left a good ring on the tub which I had to scrub after I had scrubbed me!. I was asleep from the moment my head hit the pillow, looking forward to that Easter basket I knew would be waiting in the morning when I woke up.

Easter morning I raced down the steps along with my sister to get into that Easter basket. Jelly beans, chocolate Easter bunnies, sugary Easter eggs, Peeps and more are what I remember. Then there was breakfast, which might include one of those hard-boiled Easter eggs we had dyed. In my wife’s family, they would eat the basket of eggs, kolachi, and ham they had taken to church on Saturday to be blessed.

Then it was  upstairs to change and to pile into the car and leave early for church. There would always be a lot of people at services and mom always wanted to get there early to get seated in our usual seats. Easter just wouldn’t be right otherwise!

When I was older our youth group sometimes got up early and met up to go to a sunrise service. What I always remembered about Easter services was the joyous music and the back and forth of “He is risen” and “He is risen indeed!”

After services or Easter mass, it was often the time families would go out to the east side of Lake Newport where daffodils grew along the banks of the lake. We’d often take family pictures of all of us in our Easter best in the midst of nature’s glorious finery.

In our family there would often be an Easter dinner either at our grandparents home or our home with the requisite ham, and sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole, deviled eggs or pickled eggs, kolachi and more. Somehow those Easter clothes fit a bit more snugly than in the morning. Of course, dipping into those Easter baskets whenever we could didn’t help!

You always hoped for a sunny day. It often seemed like spring had finally arrived. Flowers were starting to bloom, the grass was starting to green up, there were the hints of new life everywhere. It just seemed to fit that this was the time we celebrated the risen Christ. Everything else was coming to life as well. The dead of winter was past, spring was here and summer (and the end of another school year) was just around the color. A day to celebrate indeed!

Want to read more “Growing up in Working Class Youngstown” posts? You can find all of them by going to my home page and clicking “On Youngstown” under categories.

Transcendence–or Resurrection?

In the current movie, Transcendence, (which I have not seen) Johnny Depp’s character is mortally wounded by anti-Artificial Intelligence terrorists, and before he dies, his consciousness is downloaded into a computer by his wife. As is typical of such things, all sorts of mayhem results as his consciousness connects to the internet.

What is interesting is that this is not just the stuff of movies but that there is serious thinking and the beginnings of research with the goal of doing just this, as evidenced in the Wikipedia article on Mind uploading. Apart from the ethical questions raised by such efforts, my question is, why would you want to do this when there is a much better alternative?

What am I talking about? Resurrection–the idea of coming to life again after one has died in a new type of physical body that has continuity in some way with the one we have in this life but is subject to neither aging, disease, or death. Frankly, there is a good deal I like about embodied existence that a purely mental or even spiritual existence can’t hold a candle to. There are the experiences of the senses, glorious visions, beautiful music, delectable smells, the pleasures of eating, touching and being touched. There are the delights of using one’s body to translate our ideas into a gourmet dish, a song, a spoken word, a beautiful garden, a work of art, or even just this sentence. Some might argue that there are digital equivalents to this, but I’m not buying it.


This is why I celebrate Easter. Resurrection is not a speculation of futurists or a research goal for the near or distant future. When we say, “He is risen, He is risen indeed” in churches around the world, we celebrate the reality that the first man has already come back from the dead, not as a resuscitated corpse, but as a gloriously new, yet emphatically the same Jesus in the flesh. Beyond their wildest dreams, the first followers of Jesus empirically validated the reality that resurrection is possible. They saw, heard, even touched the risen Christ.

Not only that, but followers of Jesus believe that “resurrection” is already at work in us, dying though we are. The apostle Paul speaks of a “new creation” having begun in us, that we already have experienced a being raised from spiritual death to life. The resurrection of the body simply marks the completion of a process whose beginning was symbolized when I was lifted up out of the waters of baptism.

Death seems so final, and perhaps what motivates people who dream of accomplishing “transcendence” is to find a way to evade and transcend this final reality.  If you don’t believe in a hereafter, if all you believe is that when you die, you rot, then transcendence is the only game in town. I also wonder if for others, “transcendence” is the best shot at evading the hereafter, or so one hopes.

Death also seems not to be the way things were meant to be. The Bible speaks of it as the last enemy to be destroyed. No wonder we fight it so hard with all our medical technology! No wonder we sometimes try to deny its existence or thwart its impact upon our lives. The truth is, I love my life in this body. I loved my first cup of coffee today. I loved the spring freshness of the air as I worked to clean up my yard. I even love the twinges in muscles that tell me that I used them! Truth is, I don’t want to die. In fact, some training I’ve received tells me that one should be concerned and take action when a person speaks of wanting to die.

So I get the transcendence thing. But I’m not going there. Today I will be celebrating something I think is far better. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is empirical evidence that my bodily resurrection is possible, and that of my parents, and all those I love who have hoped in Christ. I am celebrating the hope that one day I will see them in all their physical glory, that I will be seen with a glory I’ve never had before, and above all, that I will see the glory of the risen Christ. Oh, what a day that will be!