The First Easter
by Anna Anastasia

"The eggs were put to boil and were being prepared for painting when Rat's son had his egg slip from his hands and fall into a large pan of melted chocolate."

Animal personalities shine in this fanciful tale about the origins of the first candy coated Easter egg hunt. Long ago in a village of 300 people, the animals banded together in a selfless effort to please the children and make a joyless holiday with “fasting and churchgoing” more fun. In an egalitarian process, at least seventeen different animals—including cats, rats, dogs, bats, ferrets, owls, horses, and raccoons—contribute impressive problem-solving and teamwork skills to secretly deliver delicious Easter eggs to all. Each task, from providing and safekeeping the eggs, to coloring and distributing them, is a creative triumph of the democratic process. Trust builds during the planning year, aided by recognition of individual talents and strengths. For example, the egg was chosen because of its versatility and importance in the human diet. The rabbit became deliverer after his agility and swiftness triumphed in a fair race among rabbit, cat, dog and hen. Birds of flight flocked to solve the problem of how to reach villagers in the remote mountains.

Dialog among the animals is engaging and believable. Four seasons of farm work illuminate nature’s cycle. Illustrations are charming. Introductory stereotypes about poor and wealthy children seem irrelevant to the story line. Anastasia is talented at bringing an unusual perspective into the lives of animals, with a pervading theme being the animals’ need to sneak around and hide their intelligence from humans. One wonders why the animals were so intent on secretly pleasing the humans, but Anastasia explains that it is to change human behavior by taking their minds off their problems. Anastasia, a former police officer for the Trinidad and Tobago police service, brings an imaginative perspective to the origins of the first Easter egg hunt by depicting animal teamwork, friendship, and loving recognition of individual skills and talents.

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