July 26th, 2008
Hunkin, Oliver. Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, 1985. 126 pp.
The Pilgrim’s Progress needs no introduction nor would any review do it any justice. However, this particular rendition of the classic-that word does not suffice for the second most sold book of all time behind God’s Holy Word, the Bible-is not a well know resource for children. With the help of illustrator Alan Parry, Oliver Hunkin set out to arrange the story of Pilgrim so that young children could meet with Everyman who journeys from this world to the next.
Hunkin did a masterful job of choosing the pertinent sections from the original Pilgrim’s Progress and placing them alongside the masterful artistic renditions of each scene. The artwork in and of itself is worthy of the price of the book and might even be able to tell the story just by looking at the pictures. Because of the graphic display of the pictures, it is recommended for children older than eight years old. However, I have read it to my boys (4 and 2) and have witnessed no adverse affects. What I have noticed is that through these illustrations, they have given a “face” to the works of the devil and are beginning to see the reality of his work in our world to the believer.
Perhaps one of the weaknesses of this book, in my humble opinion, is that the language has been modernized. I completely understand why that was done in that today’s children would have no idea what Elizabethan English is saying. Shoot, some adults have no idea how to read it. But, for this particular book, it seems as though something is lost in the modernization of the language. It is as though we lose the full force of Bunyan’s words when we update the language.
Keep in mind that the modernization of the language is almost necessary to be able to relate to the reader what is being said by the author. After all, Bunyan wrote this masterpiece in the 17th century! I do believe that Hunkin was able to grasp the meaning and relate it to a younger audience than if we were to just read the original book (modernized or not) to our children. By introducing our children to the doctrines found in this book through the writing genre of allegory, parents are beginning to lay the foundation for true Christian faith that we, assuming our own faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, pray that our children might some day make their own.
If you have a time of family worship, this would be a great way to engage your younger children during that time. If you are a children’s minister, or involved in children’s ministry, this would be an excellent resource to add to your ministry. If your children enjoy reading, this would be a great book for them to read and introduce them to the nature of allegorical writings so that they may better enjoy, and understand, other books like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings.