Dangerous Journey: the Story of Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan--retold by Oliver Hunkin
Summary: Christian is on a journey. Convinced that he is living in a city bound for destruction, Christian leaves his life behind, shoulders his terrible burden and heads toward a life that brings everlasting joy. Along the way he encounters many dangers and pitfalls. He is tested, tried, tempted and encouraged. Enjoy this pictorial classic of a pilgrim's journey through a sinful world, told in 8 chapters.
Personal Thoughts: In my opinion, this is the best version of Pilgrim's Progress for little ones. The pictures are great--giving an excellent visual of the journey which will hopefully stimulate conversation between you and your little one about spiritual pilgrimage.
Jesus Teaches Us How to be Good
Summary: It is hard to be good. Our hearts have a lot of sin inside, and often it shows in the way we act. Sometimes we even pretend to be good, but deep down inside our attitude is very ugly. We need a real heart change. Jesus can do this for us! And He will also give us His Holy Spirit so that we can be deep down good.
Personal Thoughts: Being good can never be accomplished without a realization that we need a heart transplant. We need to recognize our need of the Savior. We need daily help from the Holy Spirit. The book also talks about a Pharisaical type of obedience (outward only), but I wonder if this kind of goes over the child's head. The illustrations, however, are excellent.
Jesus Teaches Us How to Pray
Summary: Jesus loved to pray, and He wants us to pray as well. But Jesus also knows that sometimes it's hard for us to pray. Sometimes we don't know what words to use. Sometimes we just don't feel like it. Sometimes we wonder if anyone is listening at all. But Jesus is willing to teach us how to pray and what to ask for in a way that makes God happy. It is good to speak to God!
Personal Thoughts: Using the Lord's Prayer as a blueprint, this book teaches children how to pray. It is sensitive to the fact that prayer is not generally a thrill for children. Nevertheless, it encourages children to talk to a Father who genuinely wants to build a relationship with His people.
Summary: A great biography about a great theologian, simple enough for a child to understand. The book starts with a map of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. This easy to read tool is a great help to understanding the story. John Owen is portrayed as a man who deeply loved the people of God and really strove to impart the truths of God's Word to them. It talks about his upbringing, his education, his congregation, persecutions, the great fire of London, the Great Ejection and how his writing addressed the spiritual issues of the day in the context of the difficulties and circumstances they faced. His writings still apply today, for man's heart is still desperately wicked and his desires never changed.
Personal Thoughts: The pictures in this book are just fantastic. Each page also has an excellent picture to word ratio so that the child never loses interest. Since the book is lengthier than a normal child's book, it has been divided into several chapters, making it easy to put the book down and resuming later. The end of the book has a neat timeline of events as well as a small section highlighting some of the significant historical events of that time. At the very end of the book we are treated to a modern version of John Owen's catechism, created for young children. One might not think that a book about John Owen would be terribly interesting to a child since his writings are often perceived as being complicated and deeply theological, but the author has done an excellent job of showing the 'humanness' of this man of God.
The Glory of Grace: The Story of the Canons of Dort
Summary: Out of the 3 books in this series, this one is definitly the most difficult. There are lots of names to plow through and a lot of political references that can make the story difficult for children. But with some effort and explanation I still think it's quite readable. There is a great pictorial timeline included in this book and it has a nice succint way of highlighting Arminian teaching in 5 points. The book definitely hits a climactic plateau when the synod makes some solid decisions about how the church is to function--makes you want to cheer! The story rightfully ends with succint overview of the cannons.
Faithfulness Under Fire: The Story of Guido De Bres
Summary: This is a sad story. Guido de Bres lived a life of total dedication for the Lord. He loved his Father in heaven very much. But this also came at a terrible price. He preached to the people faithfully. He wrote pieces that refuted Roman Catholicism. He brought much glory to the name of the Lord. But he lost many things--his home, his possessions, his freedom and even his life. He suffered a great deal, yet he knew his treasure was in heaven. Through the murderous actions of wicked men, the Lord brought His faithful servant home. One of the pieces Guido De Bres wrote is the Belgic Confession. Reading this story gives a whole new appreciation for that confession. As an aside, the pictures are excellently done and are incredibly gripping.
The Quest for Comfort: The Story of the Heidelberg Catechism
Summary: Here is the story, written for a child, of the creation of that great confession--the Heidelberg Catechism. I read it first for myself. I was impressed with the simplicity of the story, told with a gentle, fatherly tone. I mused on the fact that adults, too, can learn plenty from this simple retelling, and in turn explain the story to their children.
After I finished the story myself, I called for my 7 year old son. I wanted to see his reaction to the book. He loved the story. He loved the pictures. He understood everything. Then later, as we went to church I opened up the psalter hymnal and showed him the Heidelberg Catechism. His whole face lit up as he saw the names of the men he had already learned about--Casper Olevianus, Zacharius Ursinus and Fredrick III--in the introduction. So I can say the most amazing things about this book all I want. The proof is in the reaction of my 7 year old son.
The Donkey Who Carried A King
Summary: The story starts with a boy who is upset because he always gets picked last for any schoolyard games. His grandpa sits him down and tells him a fictional retelling of the story of the donkey who carried Jesus through the streets during His triumphal entry. This donkey was never given any work to do until he was called to carry Jesus. Well, then that donkey felt important! Afterwards, the donkey was given more mundane work and he quickly felt unsatisfied. He figured that it was his job to carry important people all the time. But then that donkey realized that that great King came to be a servant to His people by dying for their sins. As a result, he too, must serve.
Personal Thoughts: I have to be honest, I am a little uncomfortable with this story. I am not fond of intertwining fiction with biblical reality. In this story we read from the perspective of the donkey that carried Christ. Now, there are excellent lessons to be learned from this story, and the gospel is presented very clearly. Christ is proclaimed and on those grounds I will promote this book.
Excerpt: If you are given a job that doesn't seem to be so much fun, do your best at your job anyway. Remember that God the Father chose Jesus for the worst job of all, but He did it willingly to please His Father and to save His people. --pg. 30
The Princess and the Kiss
Summary: A king and a queen receive a beautiful baby girl and give their daughter a special gift from God--her first kiss. While the princess grew, the king and queen kept this gift safe. As the princess becomes of age, the king and queen tell her about this kiss and explain to her that it is hers to keep or to give away--but to use great wisdom in making such a decision. Soon the suitors come to call. The princess quickly recognizes that most of them would not cherish her kiss. Finally a poor young farmer comes to visit. He respectfully bows to the king and queen and humbly admits that he has no gift of value to give her aside from one thing-- his own first kiss.
Personal Thoughts: This is a story about purity told in a manner that is very appropriate for children. I would hope that many parents would take the opportunity to read this book to their daughters and have a godly discussion on the topic of purity. I found the story very gripping, very sweet and one that would relate to girls wonderfully. I heartily endorse this book.
Quote: On the following morning, Prince Treasurechest came to call. He brought gifts of gold, jewels and costly silken robes. "See the presents I have bought you Princess," said Prince Treasurechest. "You will never lack for fine clothes. Marry me Princess, for I can give you the best of everything."
Indeed, when the princess saw the beautiful things the prince had bought for her, she did not doubt that he would buy her anything her heart desired. "But with all these riches," she thought, "he does not need my kiss. My kiss will not be special to him."
So the princess sent Prince Treasurechest away too.
The Squire and the Scroll
Summary: A wonderful story for children about staying true to God's Word in the face of great temptations. A squire receives a scroll from his parents just before he is about to embark on a quest for the king. This scroll contains words of wisdom that the boy has learned as a child. As the young squire accompanies the brave knight, he uses his scroll to give him direction as he faces difficult circumstances and temptations on his journey. Of course, the underlying theme is to stay true to the Word of God and to let the Bible direct all our actions.
Personal Thoughts: If a parent were to read this book to their sons, they could have such a good discussion with them! The book is exciting enough to grip boys--a fierce dragon, quicksand, a battle, a dark cave covered with gems, etc. Also, boys can relate to the excitement of embarking on a quest for a king and becoming a hero in the process. This is a great story with great biblical truth. I will happily endorse it.
Quote: As the two travelled through the shadowy wood, they began to hear sounds like a rushing brook or wind in the trees. Deeper in the forest, the sounds became more like whispers that seemed to come from the plants, the trees, the ground.
Listening intently, the knight and the boy heard evil chants. warnings to turn back, whisperings that made their hearts faint.
But the boy knew how to guard his ears, for he knew the first command of the scroll"
LISTEN ONLY TO WORDS THAT ARE PURE
"The wool!" the lad shouted, and quickly pulled off some soft tufts for the knight and himself to stop up their ears. Now courage could not be stolen from the knight or the boy, and they passed safely through the enchanted wood