Book Review: Dangerous Journey

Rating: ★★★★★

This is an outstanding abridged and illustrated version of the classic 17th-century novel, Pilgrim’s Progress.  In the story Christian, having been roused from his comfortable life in the City of Destruction by a book given to him that foretells the judgment to come, leaves everything and sets out on a quest for the Celestial City. On this journey he encounters many dangers until he finally passes through the River of Death to be greeted by the King.  The enemies and trials along his journey are allegorical symbols for temptations and enemies that Christians meet in their service to Christ.

The paraphrased text in this adaptation is well executed, with the flavor of the original language retained while the sense is easier to follow for modern readers.  The great attraction of this book, however, is the gorgeous illustrations, which dramatize the fantastical elements of the story in a vivid, compelling way. Characters are dressed in period costumes, and the scenes capture the dreamlike flavor of the story very well.

The reading audience is about 8-12, but with adult help the book can be accessible to much younger children.  We read the book several times (paraphrasing the first time and focusing on pictures) to prepare three-year-old Christopher for a church dramatization of Pilgrim’s Progress.  While immersed in the story, he would often play-act and relive the scenes (“Why did Apollyon drip blood over the plains when Christian wounded him?”  or  “I’m Giant Despair and you are my wife.  What do you think I should do in the morning?  Should I beat Christian?  Okay!”  On attending the play, he was rather disappointed that Apollyon and Giant Despair did not appear in their full size and terror.

Because it is heavily abridged, the story does lack coherence in places, and transitions between plot points are sometimes abrupt.  In this first edition there are also a few typos.  Still,  this is an excellent “first run” of the classic story which should make the full version accessible for older readers.

The book is read aloud in this video production (2 hours long).

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Publication Information: Bunyan, John; Hunkin, Oliver. Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim's Progress. Perry, Alan. . 1985. ISBN: 0802836194.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 04-08, Books Children Love, Honey For a Child's Heart, World Books That Show
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Posted on April 28, 2009

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