I would have loved "The Prince's Poison Cup" as a child. It is a powerful portrayal of mankind's fall and redemption that is told in a way that little ones can understand. The illustrations are beautiful. The writing is well done.
In the beginning of the story, we meet a little girl named Ella who is ill and must take some yucky medicine in order to get well. She bravely takes it but then asks her dad, "Daddy, why does medicine taste so bad if it's going to make us well?" Her father tells that her grandpa will be visiting that day and that she should ask him because "He always can answer your hard questions." Later Grandpa arrives and Ella asks him her question. What follows is an allegorical retelling of the Gospel done in a way that children can comprehend it.
Grandpa's story is about the King of Life, His Son The Prince and His archenemy. The King of Life made a beautiful park for His people and He would come there to visit them. In it was a fountain filled with water that the King's people were forbidden to drink of. The people loved their King and willingly obeyed Him. Then one day the King's archenemy appeared. He told the people that the water from the fountain was actually good and if they would drink of it they would become great like their King. He then filled a cup with the fountain's water and the people partook of it. Immediately their hearts became stone and they were filled with hated towards their King. They moved away from the park to the desert and built a city which they called "The City Of Man".
What the King does next mirrors the plan of salvation. Giving His Son a golden cup, the King tells His Son to go to the City of Man and search for another fountain, one filled with the King's wrath, fill His cup and drink the poison contained therein so that the people might be saved. The Son does just that and dies for His people. The King appears and brings His Son back to life and thus the archenemy is defeated. Grandpa then explains to his granddaughter that people become ill because of sin and tells her to remember the story of the Prince when she has to take bad-tasting medicine. Ella tells Grandpa "I know another Prince Who died for His people."
There are discussion questions at the end of the book that parents can use to make sure that children grasp the real meaning of the story.
This is an excellent book that simply and succinctly explains the Gospel story. I cannot wait to share it with my children.
My overall rating: Excellent.
(I received via e-mail a PDF version of this Reformation Trust Publishing title. I was not asked by Reformation Trust that my review of this book be positive, only that it be serious, substantive and fair. Once my review is received, I will receive a free copy of the book.)
R. C. Sproul has written some helpful books for children. These books are "designed to present deep biblical truths to children on their own level." Each book presents a different aspect of God's character and serves as a wonderful conversation starter. The latter two (of which "The Prince's Poison Cup" is one) even include discussion questions and Scripture references at the end of the story. However, if you could only purchase one of these books, I think that "The Prince's Poison Cup" best communicates the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is therefore, the most beneficial.
There are two things in particular that gave me pause in "The Prince's Poison Cup" that warrant further discussion. The first is the depiction of the deceiver in that he looks evil. This is a very common portrayal among children's books, however, I think it deserves special acknowledgment because often, sin and temptation do not look evil to us.
The second point worth discussing is on Page 20 in a section that parallels Christ's time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. In Dr. Sproul's story, his Prince trembles with fear as he considers whether there might be another way of rescuing His people. I would want to clarify that, although Scripture does say that Christ trembled, it never attributes fear to Christ. In Matthew 26: 37 & 38, Christ is described as sorrowful and troubled. Mark 14:33-34 describes Jesus as greatly distressed, troubled, and sorrowful. Luke 22:44 describes Jesus as being in agony. Furthermore, 1 John 4:18 states: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love" (1 John 4:18 ESV). Christ was perfected in love and perfectly trusted His Father in spite of the coming punishment He was to bear for the sins of His people and so, I do not think he could have been fearful. I could be wrong, but just to be cautious, I would try to use more Biblical language to describe Christ's trembling and sweat in the Garden as we are representing His character. (Please note: Dr. Sproul is not necessarily attributing fear to Christ in this book but rather to his fictional Prince character who parallels Christ.)
I would not allow these two issues to prevent me from purchasing this book. It does a great job of communicating Gospel truth in a clear, concise manner to children. Due to the longer paragraphs, I would recommend these books for children who have longer attention spans (probably starting around age four to six, depending on the child).
(Many thanks to Reformation Trust Publishing for granting me a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!)
This story is beautifully written and accurately depicts the Gospel message. R. C Sproul has done a work of art in this story. As I heard him once narrate it, the story of the gospel is so beautifully portrayed tears filled my eyes. Children will love his narrative ability and parents will love the absolute consistent Scripture parallels. This book has the power to present the Gospel to the young. If an unsaved adult reads this book to the young, the adult will also hear the Gospel message. I am confident God inspired the talent used in writing this book. Buy a book with a story that is truly "His" story beautifully written. May God Bless this work and place it in the hands of Christian parents, teachers, and children's church leaders.