On the Wings of the West Wind by Joni Eareckson Tada is an allegory every parent and child can learn from.
Marcus is a blind and deaf slave. Wearing shackles, he and many others pointlessly move rocks and dirt from one location to another while their master whips them. But one day, Marcus dares to raise his head as the west wind blows by. He smells freedom. Then, suddenly, he can see freedom in the shape of a young man. When the young man speaks, Marcus can hear him, too. The young man says he comes in the name of his King, who wishes to tell him, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free." All Marcus must do is follow the young man.
Marcus is doubtful. How can he leave captivity when he still has shackles on his wrists? But when he musters up the courage to follow the young man, he discovers his shackles simply fall off.
Marcus follows the young man to a lush field where he meets his new master, the King. "I am your master, and you will no longer be called a slave, but my friend," the King says. "And don't forget, you now have eyes to see the truth and ears to hear my word."
After some time in the King's field, Marcus finds himself wandering alongside the stone wall that separates his new home from his old one. He looks through the gate, and hears a frightening voice - that of his old master. The voice tells him he doesn't belong in the King's field and that he should return to his true master - now! Marcus stumbles out of the gate into the old field. His old master demands he put his shackles back on, but just as Marcus is about to obey, believing his old master's lies, he hears the King whisper "The truth will set you free." Marcus begs the King to come save him, until he suddenly realizes his old master has not whipped him or harmed him in any way.
Marcus stands up and tells his old master that he is a liar. "I belong to the King," he says. His old master "backed off, like a snake crawling away, like a coward away from the face of courage."
When Marcus returns to the King, his master tells him, "You must never think that you have to obey that old snake...But the stone wall cannot keep out the sound of his voice...I will not always seem to be near...Believe me when I say that although you can never change back into a slave again, you do have the choice to act like one, to live like one. The chains have no power over you that you do not give them. The power is in what you choose to believe." He hands Marcus a scroll, and when Marcus slowly unrolls it, he reads: "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
"[Marcus] realized that if he would remember this truth, he would always be free."
What I Like: The illustrations by Michael Steirnagle are exquisite. They make beautiful use of light, offering us rich hues and faces full of expression. The story itself does not talk down to children; in fact, it's mature enough, this book makes a nice gift for adults, too. And the tale is one that makes memorable a fact that truly has the power to change a Christian's life.
What I Dislike: The first two pages are a bit clunky. There's a lot of telling instead of showing. But the rest of the book is so good, I don't think you'll much mind.
Overall Rating: Very good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 to 8, but I think kids 7 and up will enjoy this book most.
Publishing Info: Crossway, 2002; ISBN: 1581343728; hardback, $14.99
Special Info: Check out our other reviews of books by Joni Eareckson Tada.