The Prince's Poison Cup
Author: R.C. Sproul
Illustrations: Justin Gerard
Berenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss, Golden Books, and The World of Beatrix Potter are all books that I had the enjoyment of growing up with. I can honestly state that being raised in a non-Christian home, my mother made an attempt to educate my brother and I with wholesome literature. Early on, I can remember the emphasis of reading and her spending time helping us to understand what it was we were hearing. My brother and I loved books as kids. Kids love books when they can interact and relate with the characters in the books. The most powerful imagery of these childhood books I still have today are the messages they ultimately conveyed.
While this is the first book in R.C. Sproul's series of children's books that I've read, I've heard warm reviews of the others. Most notably this book enters the world of the child by relating to the common distaste of medicine that all children seem to be born with. The illustrations tell of the comfort a child might experience from Grandpa sharing a story and advising with his wisdom why medicine tastes bad. If you have an imagination (and most certainly your child does) the warm images will compensate for the lack of detail our adult minds will be looking for in the theology of this story.
Because it is from R.C. Sproul, many parents who read this to their children should be expectant of a resonating influence of scripture in the plot. The opening page quotes John 18:11 and inevitably sets the tone that coincides with the title of this story. Providing the backdrop to Sproul's allegory is the concept of creation, the garden, and the fall of man. The emphasis and buildup of just what it was that the Prince (Jesus Christ) was preparing to do create the anxiety necessary for telling a good children's story. Climaxing with the death of the Prince, the resurrection through the power of His Father, and the moral summary given by Grandpa would seem to let readers down at first glance. However, this book sets out to accomplish its task, and illustrates the curse of sin (sickness), the distasteful medicine (cup of wrath), and the healing brought from its ingestion (cleansed cup of Christ).
The story does not provide ample text to preach a sermon from, but any parent reading this book to their child would do well to accentuate details through the powerful imagery seen in the full color illustrations. There are several images throughout the book that don't seem to have a correlated description in the story, some would say this was poorly planned, I believe it to be intentional. I would thoroughly enjoy reading this book to a child, and vicariously viewing this through the lens of my childhood past, these illustrations would excite me and they breathe life into this potent little book.
While reflecting on the important values and ethics I picked up in childhood readings, nothing could be more important than learning about the nature of the One True God. This book embodies the nature of our Lord through the story of Christ's atonement and the reconciliation given us through His cross. While some younger children may not grasp the concept of propitiation and reconciliation, The Prince's Poison Cup provides a means to teach your children biblical truth. Even better, the appendix includes a summary of questions to ask a child while promoting an understanding through scriptures that tell of Christ's work in the atonement.
Without having read any of Sproul's other childrens books, I have no comparison to gauge this one by. That said, I would still recommend this book to parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, or even babysitters. If I could only go back and tell mom to buy this book for me as a child, I would.
Buy it now!