Tag: parable

Dangerous Journey | Oliver Hunkin

I love it when I’m wrong about books.

Years ago, a friend showed me this one and I considered how excellent a children’s rendition of A Pilgrim’s Progress would be. I read a few sample pages and loved the tone of the story. But the illustrations—they were so intense. So many pointy teeth and warty giants! Egad. I thought that maybe some day my daughters might appreciate it—maybe. But at that point, we were still having nightmares about VeggieTales, so that day seemed a long way off.

Dangerous Journey, by Oliver Hunkin | Little Book, Big Story

But this year, some wise educator included Dangerous Journey in our history curriculum, so we gave it a read, even though I was still pretty sure at least one of the girls was way too small for it and another would listen to the story while giving every bodily clue that she hated it.

But I was wrong: Dangerous Journey became our favorite read aloud, the one that got applause when the girls saw it in the stack. “It’s Dangerous Journey day!” became something they said with the same enthusiasm they show for the ice cream truck in the summer. (Note: I am not exaggerating for effect.)

Dangerous Journey, by Oliver Hunkin | Little Book, Big Story

I’m so glad I was wrong about that, because reacquainting the girls with the story of Pilgrim’s Progress (we read Little Pilgrim’s Progress a few years ago) gave us a beautiful shared analogy for the Christian life that we’ve come back to often since our Dangerous Journey days ended. When someone descends into the depth of a terrible mood, I can draw them back gently with, “Remember when Christian left the path? Do you remember where he ended?” Or we can spur each other on in good works by remembering the Celestial City. Through Dangerous Journey, Pilgrim’s Progress has become part of our family’s shared language.

Dangerous Journey, by Oliver Hunkin | Little Book, Big Story


a quick comparison

For a moment, though, let’s consider what makes this version different from Little Pilgrim’s Progress. Dangerous Journey is told in picture book format (Little Pilgrim’s Progress is a chapter book), but even so, it’s language is a little more advanced. In it, Christian is an adult (he is a child in Little Pilgrim’s Progress, a perspective that obviously has its own benefits). Dangerous Journey’s illustrations are dark and a bit dated, but something about them really did connect with my girls (Little Pilgrim’s Progress is minimally illustrated), and I think the visuals helped them understand better what was happening in the story.

Both books are excellent, and both have found deserving spaces on our shelves, though they each approach the story of Christian’s journey to the Celestial City differently. And neither gave our girls nightmares. That’s a definite plus.


Thank you all!

Thank you so much to all of you who entered the Slugs & Bugs giveaway, and congrats to Emily and Jen, our winners! Since I can’t send you all home with an album, I’ll do the next best thing and play you out with a song. Here is the video for the song “The Ten Commandments.” Enjoy!


Dangerous Journey
Oliver Hunkin (1985)

The Prince’s Poison Cup | RC Sproul

Today’s summer rerun first appeared on June 14, 2013.


My daughter once told me, “When I’m at a friend’s house, I go straight for the books.” I loved this, because I do that, too: when invited to a friend’s house for the first time, I gravitate toward the bookshelf (especially if they have bookshelves, plural), and scan the spines for familiar titles.

I know that friendship will come easily when I see certain books lining their shelves, or better yet, when this new friend follows me to the bookshelf, leans over my shoulder and says, “You like that one? Then you have to read this.” Before I know it, my arms are full of new books.

I met The Prince’s Poison Cup at a just such a new friend’s house. As we chatted, I flipped it open carelessly and found myself confronted with an illustration so beautiful that it moved me to tears at once: a father, a king, holding his son in the deepest of embraces, both of them radiant with light.

The Prince's Poison Cup | Little Book, Big Story

I didn’t care what the book was about—we needed our very own copy. And when we did get our copy, I found that it was an allegory of quality and depth, written around the verse, “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11b). R.C. Sproul puts his Bible knowledge to good use as he weaves the gospel through this story of a prince who rescued his Father’s people by . . . but wait. I won’t give the story away.

I will tell you that Justin Gerard’s illustrations do more than display the story—they interact with it, advancing the plot in beautiful double spreads. This is a story that will appeal to heroic little boys, but that has also captured the hearts of my girly girls, perhaps because it is full of the elements of the Best Story Ever (you know the one).


The Prince’s Poison Cup
RC Sproul, Justin Gerard (2008)

Sidney and Norman | Phil Vischer

It’s summer vacation! I’m taking the last month of the summer off, so I’m going to pull out a few posts from this blog’s early days, gussy them up, and share them with you (think of them as “summer reruns”). I hope you find some new titles among our old favorites! May your final weeks of summer be sprinkled with impromptu picnics, fresh tomatoes, and a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

Today’s post originally appeared on April 19, 2013.


Are you familiar with Phil Vischer? In the unlikely event that you’re not (as one of the original creators of VeggieTales, his work is hard to miss), I’d like to take a moment to explain to you why I hold him in such high regard.

In a time when many Christian artists simply knock off secular stuff and fill it with Christianese, Phil Vischer provides—through JellyTelly, What’s in the Bible?, and his children’s books—something new, wildly creative, and smart.

Have you seen What’s in the Bible? No? Go watch an episode now. I’ll wait.

You’ll notice that the writers of What’s in the Bible? don’t talk down to kids, but work steadily through the entire Bible, as though they think the Bible is something that kids can and should know from start to finish. They do not shy away from tricky questions like, “Why did  the Israelites have to kill everyone in Canaan?” but instead answer them with honesty, delicacy, and humor (where appropriate, of course), an approach which appeals to children, yes, but also to adults. My husband and I simply love watching this show with our daughters. (We cannot say the same of Dora the Explorer.)

So, Phil Vischer tackles projects that are high-quality, ambitious and uniquely Christian. In doing so, he connects with kids in a gracious, respectful way. Which brings me, at last, to Sidney & Norman.

Sidney and Norman | Little Book, Big Story

Sidney and Norman were two pigs, but they didn’t “oink or eat slop—no, this isn’t that kind of story. They wore suit coats and went to work.” So begins the tale of two pigs who live next door to each other, but who live very different lives. Norman is organized, punctual, and well-dressed, an award-winning sort of pig. Sidney, on the other hand, just cannot seem to get his act together, no matter how hard he tries, and he suspects that all the world—Norman included—must look down on him for his rumpled tie and clumsy manner.

But when both pigs are summoned for a meeting with God (at 77 Elm Street), they find that God views them both through a very different lens.

Sidney and Norman delivers a profound message, one that lies at the heart of gospel, and one that all of us—Sidneys and Normans alike—need to be reminded of often: God doesn’t love us because we are good. He loves us because we are his.

Expect interesting conversations to flow from a reading of this book. Expect to read it again and again. And expect to find yourself looking around for another book by Phil Vischer.

One last thing

If you’d like to learn more about Mr. Vischer, I recommend his autobiography, Me, Myself & Bob. I like to know a bit about the authors behind my favorite books, especially when I’m reading them to my children, and hearing Vischer’s story really changed my perception of VeggieTales, as well as Vischer himself. (And it introduced me to JellyTelly, which was, in the end, a very good thing.)


Sidney and Norman
Phil Vischer, Justin Gerard (2012)

The Lightlings | RC Sproul

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time at all, you’ve heard about R.C. Sproul. You know that he writes parables for children that encapsulate the Gospel and that he favors the voice of a grandparent talking to a child. His stories usually go like this:

I. Child has problem.

II. Grandpa comes for dinner, listens to child’s problem; responds with bewitching phrase, like, “I think I might know a story about that.”

III. Child goes wide-eyed, listens in wonder.

IV. Grandpa tells story, and it is the Gospel, every time.

Like Sproul’s other books, The Prince’s Poison Cup and The Donkey Who Carried a King, The Lightlings gives families an idea of how the Gospel appears in even the smallest of challenges. The story has to do with a fear of the dark, but it also has to do with the God who created the light and the dark and who reached into the dark to rescue the people that He loved. It works on two levels at once so skillfully that we have given this book to a friend whose son was afraid of the dark and heard later that it was, in fact, helpful for him at bedtime, because it reminded him both that God was greater than his fears and that he wasn’t alone in being afraid of the dark.

The Lightlings | Little Book, Big Story

But Sproul does more than tell a good story: at the back of each book is a catechism-style appendix that answers the many questions that children might have about the story with verses straight from Scripture. If it’s helpful for families to see that the Gospel can meet them in the daily business of life, it’s equally helpful to know that the Bible can give satisfying answers to our questions.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Justin Gerard’s illustrations. To put it simply, they glow: he uses light and dark skillfully to expand the tale of The King of Light and his subjects, and contains a quality that I’ll call, for lack of a less cliche description, “breath-taking.” In his work, I’m learning, there’s typically one picture per book that makes me say softly, “Wow.” I don’t know how he does it.

The Lightlings | Little Book, Big Story


The Lightlings
RC Sproul, Justin Gerard (2006)