This is the first children's book of R.C. Sproul's that I've read. Although Sproul is known more for his profound theology geared towards adults, he does a meaningful and thorough job of presenting a crucial topic to children. His approach is very unique compared to other Christian children's books I've read by well-known theologians, such as Francis Chan. The pattern involves a child who is presented with a problem, a family member who tells a story of a donkey to communicate life lessons, and a discussion on how to apply the story to solve the child's current problem.
There are several aspects of this book that I love. It incorporates several lessons, multiple bible stories, and different perspectives. A child will learn the importance of patience, humility, servanthood, contentment, obedience and a joyful and thankful heart. They will also hear three different bible stories that assist in developing the context of the story of Jesus: Balaam's donkey in Numbers 22, Joseph's donkey in the birth of Jesus, and Jesus' donkey riding through the streets on Palm Sunday. We also see that the story begins with the perspective of Reilly, a normal child, and his grandfather. This leads into the perspective of Davey, a younger donkey, and Barnabas, an older, wiser donkey.
Sproul concludes the book with two very crucial designs. First, he allows the grandfather to finish his story by revealing the real story of Jesus, the humble servant King. This enlightens the broader picture of living a life through Christ. Second, he includes several questions at the end of the book to assist in clarifying the Gospel to your child as well as supporting historical, scriptural and doctrinal background.
I believe Sproul was wise when he chose to use specific language in the story such as "master" and "servant". These are not popular words in our world today but are crucial to truly understanding Christ's purpose.
I think this book is uniquely excellent for forming biblical character traits and an understanding of the general story of Jesus for children.
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."
With Palm Sunday just past and Easter approaching, I was reminded of The Donkey Who Carried a King, a children's book written by R.C. Sproul, with earthy-toned illustrations by Chuck Groenink. Although it's title could hint towards it being a story about Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry is really only given a page spread in the book, as it's about so much more.
Sproul's frame narrative begins with a little boy Reilly walking home from a day playing with friends. He is sad because he was chosen last in their game. His parents direct him to the sage advice of his grandfather who then tells him the story of a donkey named Davey. Davey was a young colt who had yet to be chosen for any task. When he is finally chosen, it is to carry Christ in His triumphal entry through the streets of Jerusalem. After this privilege, Davey sees himself as too important for the trivial assignments given to him by his owner. Through the wise words of an older donkey, Barnabas, as well as later watching Christ walk to his crucifixion, Davey learns the lessons of servanthood, obedience and a joyful heart.
As with some of Sproul's other tales, my four-year old wasn't as interested with the story of Reilly so much as he was with the story of Davey. He did have empathy towards Reilly, especially as he recently had been told by another little boy that they were not friends (The beginning of many scars that will happen in his life, I'm sure, but still hard to take in!). He also enjoyed guessing the Bible stories when the donkeys were talking about their famous predecessors. I once again appreciated how Sproul includes in both narratives the involvement of the generations and the father looking to the older grandfather as a source of wisdom (Job 12:12). There were many wonderful nuggets and lessons tucked into the story and expounded upon in a 3-pg discussion portion at the end of the book. The main lesson being that Christ's life was one of servanthood reflected throughout His life and ministry, and is an example to us, His followers (Matthew 20:28). I loved that Sproul uses the term "master" when the two donkeys speak of their owner. It makes reality hit home more when the older Barnabas instructs, "...whatever the master decides to put on our backs. Every job is important, even carrying a sack of olives, and you should do your best to do it well." The story shows how God chose Jesus for the worst job- taking the sins of mankind with Him upon the cross; with whatever task we have before us, we should perform it diligently with a cheerful heart for the Lord (Colossians 3:23, I Thess 5:16-18). A good lesson when reinforcing the menial tasks around the house (and a good reminder for this Mama when she is often weary from her calling)! This was a good reinforcement for my young child, who is already constantly trying to be a servant and knight. In addition, both the donkey and the boy struggle with identity and purpose, areas where I think many can relate as well. I was able to use this to show my son that we are children of the King and He is our faithful Friend and will never forsake us.
In conclusion, our family enjoyed this book and I would recommend it, again, not as a book specifically about Easter week (though the story finishes with Christ's resurrection and the resulting hope for mankind from His shed blood), but as one to help establish biblical character traits. I do enjoy adding it to our books we read during this Easter season however, as it adds a side narrative to the already well-known story and celebration in our home.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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
We loved this book. It reads so easily and kids really do get the similarities. The kids we bought this for ask lots of questions and when we read them biblical stories they totally get it! Oh, to have the faith of a child. I would recommend this book to everyone who has kids, and grandparents you too can share this with them. Thats the category we fall in. We are totally dedicated to show these kids Jesus and His love.
This book is destined to become an Easter classic for families and children! I loved the way it combined so many wonderful lessons and spiritual truths and shared the Easter story in such a unique way.
The story begins when a young boy named Reilly is talking to his father and grandfather about his problem of picked last for games. His grandfather sympathizes and tells him of a little donkey in Jerusalem named Davey.
Davey was sad because he had never been called to do any job. He just stayed in his pen all day. The other donkeys tell him about famous donkeys in history: Balaam's donkey and the one that carried Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of Christ.
One day his life changes and Davey's master chooses him to carry Christ through the streets on Palm Sunday. After carrying a king he becomes very prideful and is unhappy with the regular jobs assigned him. One day while working, he witnesses Christ carrying the cross to his crucifixion. Davey is upset that the King would have to do such a demeaning job. An old donkey tells him how Christ was being a servant to mankind. Davey realizes if Christ can bear His cross then he can bear his loads without complaining.
Reilly's grandfather not only uses Davy's lesson to teach him about being grateful for what he is chosen to play but also being humble and not always expecting the best places. Mr. Sproul beautifully shares not only Christ's death and resurrection, but also the plan of salvation.
At the end of the book, there are wonderful questions and answers about the story to help children to understand the story and apply the truths in it. I can't emphasize enough what an outstanding delightful book this is! One every parent and grandparent will want for their library.
I received this book free from the Reformation Trust Publishing in exchange for my review. 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
My daughters have amassed quite a collection of children's book. I'm hoping and praying that my love for books and reading is passed along to them. So far so good. My oldest has her own bookshelf in her room and it's brimming with books. My wife and I are always on the look out for a good kids book to add to her library. I've found quite a few but it's harder to find good ones that are written skillfully from an explicitly Christian worldview. Glad to say The Donkey Who Carried a King delivers.
If you haven't already checked out R. C. Sproul's children books then head on over to Reformation Trust and check them out. The stories are simple yet skilfully written and provide the opportunity to speak to our children about the gospel after reading them. What's more the illustrations are top notch as well. It's not your cheesy kids bible story books from the 80's.
The Donkey Who Carried a King is the story of Reilly a boy who feels discouraged he is being picked last by the kids at school and Davey the donkey who carried Jesus into Jerusalem during his Triumphal Entry. Sproul skillfully weaves these story into the Gospel Story. Sproul ends with Davey looking on as Jesus is carrying the cross and Reilly's grandpa explaining,
"Reilly until that day when Davey was picked to carry Jesus into Jerusalem, he had never been given anything to do. His master never picked him for even the easiest task. But the other boys do pick you for your games. So I'd like you to try to be thankful you have a chance to play. Can you do that for me, Reilly?"
"Yes, Grandpa," Reilly said. "You're right. I know I should be thankful that I get to play, even if I"m chosen last."
"Good," Grandpa said with a smile. "Also, do you best to be content with whatever you are asked to do because every player and every role is important. If you are picked to do something special, don't get proud like Davey. If you are given a job that doesn't seem to be so much fun, do your best at your job anyway. Remember that God the Father chose Jesus for the worst job of all, but He did it willingly to please His Father and to save His people." (p. 30)
The story reminded me of Jesus sitting the crowds of people by the Galilean Sea and telling them a parable. Sproul ends the book with questions to help understand the story and apply the truth of the gospel. I've found reading this book and others like it helps me as a parent respond to every day situations with my children that require a deft hand applying the gospel. It's exercising a muscle all parents must develop.
A free copy of this book was provided by Reformation Trust.