With this being the third childrens book of Sproul I have read, I had fairly high expectations as the previous two were great. Although the story itself was engaging, I ended up being slightly disappointed in a couple specific aspects of the book.
John 18:11B is the focus of this story. It begins with a young girl, Ella, who needed to drink some distasteful medicine because of her sickness. Grandpa enters the picture by addressing Ella's confusion on why medicine has to taste bad. As with his other two books, Sproul utilizes an older, wiser grandpa to convey the truth of the Gospel.
The grandfather tells a story of a people who lived peacefully and joyfully with their good king - the King of Life. Eventually, the people were persuaded by the king's archenemy to rebel by drinking from the forbidden fountain. As a consequence, they became hard hearted and abandoned the king that loved them so dearly. Despite the king's anger with their rebellion, his love for them compelled him to send his only son, the Prince, to die for the restoration of the people.
Sproul intended the following representations of the characters and entities:
- The King of Life = God
- The Prince = Jesus
- The Forbidden Fountain = The Tree of Life
- The Archenemy = Satan
- Sickness = Sin
- Distasteful Medicine = Cup of Wrath
- Healing from Medicine = redemption from Christ's death
The allegory is a great way to introduce the beginning of creation, rebellion and sin, the wrath of God, love and sacrifice, and Christ's death and resurrection. I was fascinated with how he incorporated the verse from John regarding his need to drink from the cup His Father gave him. It seemed as though this was only slightly highlighted in the story and would be difficult for a child or an adult to pin point as the focus of the book. Again, Sproul included a portion at the end that allows with questions and further discussion in order to fully convey the truths for the story.
The following are the three items I was disappointed with:
1- At the end, the grandfather concludes that sickness is a result of sin. This is not an accurate truth nor biblical. I understand how Sproul was attempting to tie it all together, but I feel it could have been done in a way that didn't stray from the biblical truth.
2- While the Prince was traveling, it mentions he had friends with him. It also mentions that the friends disappeared once the crowds began to jeer. The appearance of the friends was so short and menial that they seem to be more random than supportive of the story's plot.
3- I would have enjoyed it more if Sproul had the grandfather end the story by mentioning the real King Jesus and his forgiveness of our sins. Although an allegory can be a great tool to portray difficult biblical concepts, I personally feel it's important to connect it to the real story of Jesus to eliminate any confusion.
Despite the few items I was disappointed with, it was still a fabulous book!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher as part of their review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
The Prince's Poison Cup is an allegorical book that begins with a little girl, Ella, who has a stomach ache and is given medicine by her father. Unlike the sugary syrups in today's world, this one did not impress the child and she asked the question, "Why does medicine taste so bad if it's going to make us well?" Her father passes the baton to her grandfather who then tells the child a story about the King of Life who can create anything; He has created a beautiful park for His people and enjoys walking in it with them. He also created a lovely fountain, but gave them strict instructions not to drink it's clear flowing water. Of course they are tempted by his archenemy, and their hearts are turned into stone as a result. They leave the park, set up their own dark city and remain in that state until the Prince enters their city to rescue them. Sent by the King, the Prince must fill a golden cup with murky, smelly poison that bubbles up from their city's fountain. When he drinks it, he dies, amongst a triumphant cold-hearted crowd. The King enters the plaza however, brings Him back to life, and the fountain is transformed. The Prince offers this new water as life to all who would come.
After reading the book once to make sure it was theologically sound, I read it to my four-year old. He loved it and has requested it multiple times the past few days. What did he enjoy about it? First, he liked the fact that there was a king and prince involved. Next, he loved that the story was similar to the redemption story of the Bible. After every page, he would point out that "the King of Life was like God, because He created the whole world too!" or "the archenemy was like Satan who pretended to be that naughty snake and lied". It could be just the boy in him, but he didn't really seem to get into the background story at all, usually zoning out at the end, and I think this book would have been just fine without Ella and her Grandpa. The only thing he said was missing was that the Prince needed a white horse just like Jesus, though I had to remind him that Christ won't come riding on His white horse until the end. :)
I also thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The illustrations (by Justin Gerard) are lovely and capturing, from the rounded cherubic faces of those filled with love for their Creator, to the hardened, chiseled features of those whose hearts have turned to stone. The author, RC Sproul, is also the founder of Ligonier Ministries. On their website, he states that he started his ministry to "faithfully present the unvarnished truth of Scripture to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness." I believe he accomplished this masterfully in this children's book, as even my four-year old was able to see the allegorical comparison. You can tell Sproul focused on every detail, hinting back to Scripture when he could (There are some great discussion questions and Biblical references at the end of the book). I loved the progression of sin that you could see with the people and the fountain (James 1:14-15, I John 2:15-16), and how he subtly establishes the respect for wisdom from the elderly. Personally, my only fault was at the end, where the Grandpa notes that the origin of sickness was brought about by sin- I felt that his contrasting explanation of this medicine to the cup of poison was forced. In the end however, I highly recommend this book, as yet another creative way (I'm always looking for them!) to teach such the story of God's love, sacrifice and redemption for us.
Disclaimer: I am blessed to be receiving a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.
The Prince and the Poison Cup is a story that little Ella Cobb's wise, old Grandfather tells her one day when she was not feeling well. Ella is questioning how such "terrible" tasting medicine can possibly make you well. Grandpa reminds her that "Some things that look or taste or smell wonderful are really awful."
"But sometimes things that seem terrible are actually very good." Grandpa adds. "I even remember a story in which both of these strange things were true. Would you like to hear it?"
He then begins to weave the story of the King of LIFE, whose archenemy enters into the King's country and tempts the King's subjects to drink the pure looking water of a poisoned fountain, promising that it will make them as great as the King. What the water does is gives them hearts of stone and causes them to hate their King. They leave the beautiful park that He had created just for them and fled to the desert to build the city of Man, a city of rebels.
"The King of Life was angry that the people had disobeyed Him. He knew that because of the people's terrible violation of His command, He would be justified in destroying their city. But the King still loved His people and felt sorry for them in their pain." How can the heart of stone that they chose ever be removed so they can return to the King as his people? Only if the King's own Son, the Prince, goes to the rebel's city and drinks from their fountain with the cup His Father gave Him can the curse be removed. The Prince will die from drinking the poison, but it will make the water of fountain sweet again and the people will have the opportunity to drink and heal their hearts.
When we read the of the anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, we often, like the disciples, want to run from the suffering of God's Son. Justin Gerad illustrated this account to show the anguish of the Prince, who longed to put away the cup from Him. It was not He that desired the poison- it was not His sin that needed atoning- the people did not deserve a Savior. They desired their fate- yet the bitter cup was pressed to His lips! And he chose to drain it for the salvation of the people who hated Him!
If Anyone is Thirsty, Let Him Come to Me and Drink.
This book by R C Sproul is one I am looking forward to using with children. For adults it reminds us that along with little Ella we too know a Prince who died for His people. I was blessed to be given a copy of the Prince's Poison Cup for this review.
The book begins with a little girl named Ella. Ella is sick and her Father wants her to drink some medicine, which does not taste good. Ella asks her Father, "why medicine always taste bad?" Ella's Father tells her that this would be a good question to ask your grandfather when he arrives. Grandpa arrives at their house and Ella asks the question. Grandpa sits her down on his knees and tells her a story, which explains why medicine tastes so bad.
Once upon a time there was a king named "The King of Life." This king created a park and everything within it. This park was very extravagant and had a beautiful fountain at its center. Every day the King would visit this beautiful park and spend time with all the people, plants, animals that inhabited it. He told all the people that they could drink from anything in the park except from this fountain. At first everyone ignored this fountain, but over time the people began to get curious. One day a stranger with a long dark coat entered the park. This stranger was the arch enemy of the king. The stranger told the people that the water wasn't bad at all. He told them that the water would make them as great as the king himself. The stranger filled up a cup of water and gave it to the people. The people then drank from it. When the people drank from it, their hearts became stone. The people no longer loved the king. The people stopped coming to the park and created a city and named it "The City of Man." The king knew all this would happen and he already had a plan for the people. The king went to his son, the prince, and told him that he wanted him to help the subjects. The king told him to go to the City of Man and there he would find a fountain. This fountain was ugly and filled with poison. He told the prince that he would have to drink from this fountain. When the prince arrived at the city, he noticed that the city was not pretty and the people were not loving. Upon arrival he was treated very badly, because the people noticed him for who he was, the king's son. The prince begin wish he didn't have to drink from this cup. Greater than his fear of drinking from this cup was his desire to please the king. Next to the fountain in this city was standing the king's archenemy. He handed the cup to him and the enemy filled the cup with the poison. The prince drank from the cup and it was bitter. He drank the entire cup, even while it was burning. As a result of this he died and the man in the black coat laughed. All of a sudden the king of life walks in and his light fills the city. The archenemy tells everyone to run. Everyone runs in fear.The king touch the prince and brought him back to life. At the moment the water became clear and beautiful. The prince then filled up a cup and offered it to the people. The prince said to them, "If anyone thirst let him come to Me and drink." All those who came to him hearts changed. The people's lives were changed. All the people return to the park and joyfully rejoiced in what the king had done. Grandpa then told Ella that people get sick as a result of sin. This is why the medicine which makes our bodies well tastes so bad. The prince's had to drink something far more terrible, so that his people might be healed. Every time you have to drink terrible tasting medicine, remember what the prince had to do for his people. Ella concludes this story, by telling Grandpa of how she knows a similar story saying, "And do you know what? I know another Prince who died for His people."
Once again, I absolutely love R.C. Sproul's childrens' stories. All of Sproul's stories are saturated in scripture and point the children to Christ. I would highly recommend this to all parents. I think this story is a great tool for those parents who desire to develop memorable theological themes within the lives of their children. The book additionally is full of great pictures. I love this book and would recommend it to anyone.