The Way of the Cross

Author and Illustrator: Andrew McDonough

Publisher: Lost Sheep Resources

Age Range: 4 – 7

This bright picture little book by Australian author, Andrew McDonough, follows what McDonough cites as the fourteen traditional Gospel readings of Easter.  The events chosen do not follow the fourteen stations of the cross found in Catholic churches.   So, you can make your own choice about whether this is the right book for you and your children, I’ll outline the differences between a ‘Christian’ Way of the Cross, and the Catholic Way of the Cross.

Here is the way of the cross as depicted in this Christian picture book:

  • Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is arrested
  • Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
  • Jesus is denied by Peter
  • Jesus is judged by Pilate
  • Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
  • Jesus bears the cross
  • Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrenian
  • Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
  • Jesus is crucified
  • Jesus promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief
  • Jesus speaks to His mother and the disciple
  • Jesus dies on the Cross
  • Jesus is placed in the tomb

Here are the Catholic Stations of the Cross:

  • Pilate condemns Jesus to die
  • Jesus accepts His cross
  • Jesus falls the first time
  • Jesus meets His mother
  • Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrenian
  • Veronica offers her veil to Jesus
  • Jesus falls the second time
  • Jesus speaks to the women
  • Jesus falls the third time
  • Jesus is stripped of His garments
  • Jesus is nailed to the cross
  • Jesus dies on the cross
  • Jesus is taken down from the cross
  • Jesus is placed in the tomb

There are some differences and similarities. For many Catholic parents the differences will not be of concern.  For many other Catholic parents and teachers, the differences are very important.  So, the choice is yours!

Now I can focus on the book itself.  Andrew McDonough’s books are bright and easy to read.  They are pitched at pre school to lower elementary or primary school aged children, and very young or struggling readers will be able to manage the text.  Each double page spread has between one and seven lines of text in large print. A real strength of Andrew McDonough’s books is his vivid, yet simple illustrations.  He captures character well – from the sad women to the grinning guards. Children will love the fact that each of the apostles in this series of books is drawn in contemporary clothing.  McDonough has Judas dressed in a sharp looking suit and tie, while John wears a dark jacket and sunglasses. The colouring is exceptionally well done.  There is scant background detail in the drawings, so that the eye is drawn to faces, which clearly convey emotion.

The Way of the Cross is a challenging subject to tackle in a children’s book.  McDonough has successfully conveyed the important aspects of the story.  There is no blood, sweat or tears.  Jesus is not nailed to the cross as such, he and the Good Thief have their arms outstretched without gory details. My favourite illustration is of Jesus and Simon the Cyrenian carrying the cross together, arms wrapped around each other, gazing steadfastly ahead with grim turned down mouths.

There is a list of scriptural references at the end of the book, as well as some tips from the author about how to read this book to children. He recommends telling children beforehand that “this is a sad story”.  For group readings, there are downloadable resources available to purchase, or free bookmarks and colour-ins from the lostsheep.com.au website HERE

You can view Andrew McDonough reading The Way of the Cross HERE

This is not the book to use if you wish to teach your children about the Catholic Stations of the Cross. But as an Easter book that focusses on the events leading up to the crucifixion, this is a quality publication.  So, there you have it, now you can make an informed decision.

You can purchase books from the LOST SHEEP series HERE.

2 thoughts on “The Way of the Cross”

  1. Pingback: Peter and the Big Breakfast: Bright Catholic Picture Book | Catholic Children's Stories

  2. Pingback: An Easter Story: Peter and The Rooster | Catholic Children's Stories

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