Book Review: The Donkey Who Carried a King

Rating: ★★★★☆

When I picked up this book I expected a straightforward retelling of the Easter events, with some explanation about the significance of the donkey in the Triumphal Entry.  This is instead a moral lesson based on Matthew 20:28 – “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In the setup, a young boy comes home distraught at being picked last for a game.  His grandfather sits down with him and tells the story of Davey the donkey, who learns from his old friend Barnabas that although he was chosen to carry a great King, that didn’t mean he was too good for simple roles.  The King Himself humbly chose to become a willing servant, so Christians should recognize that every role is important and not seek only prominent positions.  After making this point, Grandpa explains that Jesus died to save His people from their sins, bearing their punishment and erasing their guilt.  He now reigns forever with His Father, and is worthy of our service.

Although the story hangs on the events of Jesus’ Passion, burial and resurrection, the main part of it is entirely fictional.  We know almost nothing about the real donkey on which the fictional Davey is based, except that he fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9.  Davey’s donkey friend Barnabus, who is supposed to have carried Jesus’ mother Mary to Bethlehem, isn’t actually mentioned in the Bible at all.  Although the meaning of Easter is explained on the last page, the Gospel isn’t the main point of the story — rather, you might say the main point depends on an understanding the Gospel.  It’s possible that some children reading this may be confused about the historical events of Easter.  However, even children usually understand the difference between real animals and anthropomorphized ones.

Although I’m usually uncomfortable with embellished Bible stories, if anybody can pull it off without getting into theological trouble it’s R.C. Sproul.  This book is well-written, interesting and engaging, and attractively illustrated.  It has a biblical message, and although its message isn’t central to the Easter observance, it could make a good addition to an Easter reading basket.

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Publication Information: Sproul, R.C.. Donkey Who Carried a King, The. Reformation Trust. 2012. ISBN: 1567692699.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 04-08, Uncategorized
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Posted on March 2, 2013

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