Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim's Progress

Once upon a time, in a dreary prison, a man named John Bunyan started seeing images. He wrote them down. His images became Pilgrim's Progress, one of the most famous English-language books ever written. Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim's Progress, is an abridged version, edited by Oliver Hunkin, complete with graphic illustrations by Alan Perry.

Christian lives in the City of Destruction, and he learned that the city is doomed to be destroyed with fire from heaven. His family and neighbors are concerned, feeling he's contracted an illness. Still troubled, Christian sets out on a quest, not knowing where he's headed. Immediately, he meets Evangelist, who instructs him to keep the "shining light in your eye" and he'll eventually reach a gate. Without a glance back, Christian heads off, despite the cries of his wife and children.

As Christian continues on his journey, he carries a burden, and meets many people, some who try to sway him off his path. He meets Evangelist again, who sets him back on the right road, and Christian remembers the words from the Book: "For narrow is the gate and few are they who find it."

Obstacles, detours, and new friends abound as Christian progresses to the Celestial City - but just as his eyes land on the city, he faces one last problem: the River of Death in the Valley of the Shadow. But God hadn't forsaken Christian, and he feels renewed strength when the sun becomes visible through the mist. He reaches the shore and climbs the hill to the City where he's greeted by the King's Own Trumpeters.

What I Like: First, an admission: I inwardly groaned when I received this book for review. I read a version of The Pilgrim's Progress when I was homeschooled, and hated it. So I had a hard time setting aside my preconceived notions about this book before even cracking it open. Happily, this version surprised me, and I was quickly drawn into the story.

As for what I like, I do have to say the artwork is brilliant. This version of the book was originally released in the 1980s, and it harkens back to some of the cartoons (like the animated "Lord of the Rings" or "The Hobbit') of the era. According to the copyright, this was done for Yorkshire Television Ltd., and a quick check of Amazon shows a DVD for $14.99 to accompany. I've not seen this, but it may be a good thing to have on hand for your kids, too.

The book itself is beautiful, a true classic that should be kept on your shelf for repeated enjoyment.

What I Dislike: The language is a bit old-fashioned, and more than once there are instances of British spellings. Not a huge deal, but I'd honestly like to see an updated version of the story that makes it easier for kids to understand. The dress and mindset of the 1600s can be difficult to relate to.

Also, some of the images are a little creepy, so for younger or more sensitive children, it may not be the best book to read right before bedtime.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: 7 - 12, though, as noted above, there are some frightening images which accompany the story. Use discretion.

Publisher Info: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985; ISBN: 0-8028-3619-4; Hardback, 126 PGS., $25.00

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OR Buy it at for $16.50.

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