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Easter made easy

Easter can be a perplexing season for children. The story of Jesus's Crucifixion and Resurrection can seem to bear little relevance to our largely secular festivities.

Nevertheless, the accounts of Jesus's final days in the Gospels remain powerfully moving. In The Animals' Easter and Other Stories (Lion Children's Books pound;3.99), Avril Rowlands takes a fresh look at the character of Jesus and at events in the last weeks of his life by telling his story through animals.

The triumphant ride into Jerusalem is described by the donkey which carried Jesus and provides food for thought about the nature of kingship. The drama of the Last Supper is relayed by a cat who sat under the table, shedding new light on the washing of the Apostles' feet.

These short, lucid, carefully structured tales will help children approach challenging concepts with greater confidence.

Deedee's Easter Surprise by ay Kinnear, illustrated by Julie Park (Lion Children's Books pound;8.99) is a joyful story about Jack and his pet duck Deedee.

Taking the seasonal theme of new life, the book nevertheless deals with some tricky and potentially painful truths.

Park's illustrations are bright and bold yet very, very tender.

William Mayne pens yet another lyrical narrative about the endurance of faith through adversity in his latest novel for young confident readers, Imogen and the Ark (Hodder Children's Books pound;10.99).

Imogen sees an old wooden ark, full of animals, Mr and Mrs Noah, and their son Shem, in a toy shop and persuades her grandfather to buy it.

The ark is paid for and reserved, but is lost in a fire at the shop. Imogen never loses her belief that the ark will return and maintains imaginative communion with the Noah family.

A deeply moving tale which is beautifully composed.

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