Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Little Pilgrim's Progress - Helen Taylor

Little Pilgrim's Progress is a rewritten, illustrated version of Pilgrim's Progress and Christiana for kids.  In this version, Christian is a "Little Pilgrim" who is close friends with a little girl named Christiana who has several little siblings. Christian goes out on his pilgrimage first, and meets with various characters similar to the original Pilgrim's Progress, though some of them have been changed to be boys instead of men.  Christiana goes on her pilgrimage later on in the book with her siblings, where they also encounter Christian's father who has become a Christian and is also journeying to the Celestial City.   

There are two things that I had trouble with regarding this book and this is that first of all Christian's mother, who had gone to the Celestial City before him, is focused upon too much, she is portrayed as if she is watching, and possibly even helping him on his pilgrimage.  Speaking of Christian's mother, one character tells him, "you will find her again, little Christian…And do you know that she often very near to you?  You cannot see her, but she can see you." It took away some of the focus that should belong to God alone as Helper and Protector. We don't want children looking to their dead relatives for help, they should rely upon God!  And then when Christian arrives in the Celestial city and meets his mother he seems more focused upon her than upon the King: "'Does the King live there?' whispered Christian to his mother, for his hand was still clasped in hers.  'Yes,' she replied, 'and when you have knelt before Him and seen His glory, you will be perfectly happy forever.'  'I am happy now,' said little Christian, 'because I have found you, and you love me.'   'Ah yes,' she answered, 'but the love the King is far greater than mine.'" That just seemed very odd…instead of assuming that Christian had learned to love the King above everyone else (especially now that he is in 'Heaven', he loves his mother seemingly above everybody else and has a desire to be with her more than with the King.  It almost makes it seem as though Christian became a 'Christian' only because he wanted to be with his mother! This would be something to talk to children about if they read this book or you read it to them. 

Secondly, I thought that many of the theological dialogues were too dumbed down, and too much was cut out that could have been rendered into language understandable by children, such as the various  Scripture quotations that are cited in the original Pilgrim's Progress.   I could have understood  why the book was written the way it was if the book were for very little children but the back cover says that it is for 8-12 year olds.  Also, I found it odd that though many of the dialogues were very watered down many of the difficult names were left unchanged, such as Diffidence, By-Ends, and Discretion.  Why weren't those simplified as well?   

 But overall I liked the book. Aside from moments like what I mentioned above, most of Christian's focus does seem to be on seeing the King. I did very much like the change of the Monster Apollyon's name to a monster called 'Self'.  Which results in some interesting dialogue, like Christian saying to Self after Self tries to woo him, "The King loves me better than you do, and I would rather live with Him."  And of course Self gets angry with Christian and declares that Christian is his own servant, not the King's, and Self and Christian end up in a big fight with each other. 

All in all it is an interesting read that kept my attention throughout, even when Christiana began her journey and travelled through many of the same places Christian did.  There are many interesting concepts to discuss with children and as I said above, it would be good to talk to children about the flaws of the book as well.

Many thanks to Moody Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review (My review did not have to be favorable).

You may purchase this book from Christian Book Distributors and other bookstores.

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