A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Kristin Stiles
Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the most well-known and beloved books in Christian literature. It has been adapted into shorter, simpler text, into audiobooks, and into video. With such wide availability, most Christian families have at least a familiarity with it. Less well known is the author. Of course, many know that it was John Bunyan who penned this work and that he was in prison when he wrote it. Few know that the inspiration for the story was his own life and that he was a rebellious boy who had a very difficult life.
In her typical fashion, Simonetta Carr has yet again opened up a portal to history to show us the details of this man’s life. She brings to life the time period and the context that shaped this author and motivated him to write this classic allegory. Carr delves into Bunyan’s early childhood when he lost his mother and sister. She describes near death experiences that Bunyan went through and his outrageous behavior that gave him a reputation in the town. In light of all of this, he felt a deep guilt that he couldn’t overcome despite attempts to reform himself. When he was a little older, God led him to a Puritan church where he heard sermons rich in the truths of the gospel. This was the means of grace that God used to bring Bunyan to salvation. He grew in his faith and began preaching himself.
Charles II took the throne and banned any preaching outside the Church of England. Bunyan would not give up preaching the truth of the gospel and was sent to prison. These were extremely trying times for Bunyan and his family, but God gave him the opportunity to produce writings that would far exceed his lifetime. He was released from prison and able to preach again, but was later jailed a second time, but only for 6 months. He would live to serve God until he was 60 years old.
What makes all of the books in this series such a joy to read are the engaging storytelling, the maps and photos, the original artwork, and reproduced works of art from the time period. Carr also includes a time line of Bunyan’s life and a section titled “Did You Know?” with lots of interesting trivia about Bunyan and life in 17th century England. I learned that sugar plums are not made of plums, but are just a seed or nut covered with hard sugar. Who knew? These are the types of things that make biographies interesting and accessible to children.
I am a huge fan of Simonetta Carr’s books in the series Christian Biographies for Young Readers and this volume is no exception. I gained a new appreciation for Pilgrim’s Progress by learning about its author, and I am again challenged to be bolder in proclaiming my faith. This would be an excellent addition to any home or church library.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
JOHN BUNYAN, by Simonetta Carr