Yes, I know this is a children's book. But its by R.C. Sproul so that's got to count for something right?
But seriously, as I am a new proud papa I find myself reading many kids books these days, screening them for my daughter. I try to use Biblical discernment about what I read for myself, why wouldn't I want to do that with what my daughter will read or have read to her? So this review represents all the kids books I have read this year.
The King Without a Shadow is a beautifully written and even more beautifully illustrated story about a King who seeks to answer a little boy's question about where shadows come from and how to get rid of them. His search takes him to the halls of wisdom as well as the cave of a prophet. It is here in the prophet's cave that he hears of the King Without a Shadow, the one whose Light exposes the shadows of all other souls.
While I definitely recommend this book as a wonderful way to talk with your children about God's holiness, and I look forward to doing so with my daughter, I have two caveats:
1. The Gospel is skipped over in the story. The closest thing to the Gospel here is when the King explains to the boy that when he dies and goes to heaven, "then on that day, the day that I see Him, my shadow will leave me forever. God will take away all evil from my heart...He will make me holy just as He is holy." That statement seems to make justification from sin something that just automatically happens when we die, not something that is accomplished by the Death of God on the cross and applied to us through faith in Christ alone. I know the last thing Sproul would want to do is confuse the Gospel but unfortunately here I think a wise and faithful parent needs to expand on what is said in order to make the Gospel clear to a child.
2. This is a much lesser point of concern which I am still working out, and it applies to other Christian Children's classics (think Narnia): What is the role of using fantasy to teach truths about God to children? Surely children's fairy tales are great ways to teach morals to kids. But what is the cost of trying to teach kids about the Living True God who has made a way for salvation from their very real and very present enslavement to sin...by using fairy tales? I grew up loving the adventures of Narnia and thought Aslan was cool, but until I was chased down by the real Lion of Judah, the death and resurection of Aslan only served to help me keep the Gospel in the realm of fairy tale in my mind. Like I said, I am still working through this question, and I think a lot will depend on who your child is and how old she or he is.
Did I mention the illustrations were beautiful? Liz Bonham fills each page with color and light in a style that reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books, Dinotopia.