In this series of simple, straightforward poems preceded by explanatory paragraphs, Grimes retells the Easter story from Jesus’ triumphant arrival at Jerusalem’s Gate to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Grimes’ clever wordplay (e.g., the scourging of Jesus is “the pastime of the Passion”) will hold readers’ attention, and her poems ask some important theological questions—whether, for example, Judas was a villain or just part of God’s plan to save humanity. Frampton’s woodcuts, which recall Byzantine artwork, especially in the wide-eyed, angular faces, are extraordinarily compelling. The bold colors and thoughtful, intricate patterning demand a second look. Some readers (and parents) may find Grimes’ focus on Jesus’ suffering and execution (only the last two poems speak of the Resurrection) to be more “Poems of Good Friday” than “Poems of Easter,” and Grimes’ literalist interpretation of biblical events won’t appeal to some Christians. But for those who take their Gospels as gospel truth, this is an arresting rendition of the greatest, and saddest, story ever told.
Nikki Grimes began penning poetry at the age of six. Her many award-winning titles include the picture books Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, which won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and Meet Danitra Brown, which won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Coretta Scott King Author Honors went to her novels The Road to Paris, Jazmin’s Notebook, and Dark Sons, and her novel Bronx Masquerade won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. She lives in Corona, California.