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The Pilgrim's Progress


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Gr 5 Up-McCaughrean is known for her ability to make classic literature accessible and appealing to young readers. Here, her attempt to bring this religious allegory to contemporary readers is only partially successful, due in large part to the symbolic nature of the work. As in her earlier books, she retains the story's narrative framework and drama with a careful choice of events and use of rich, powerful language. She has eliminated much of the detail and lengthy philosophizing found in the original, presenting the story as a grand adventure. She has also toned down some of the most violent episodes such as Faithful's death. Unfortunately, Christian's dangerous journey may not be enough to attract and hold children's interest. Pilgrim's Progress is essentially a complex allegory. Understanding the symbolism is key to appreciating the drama. Most children will not have the biblical knowledge or the maturity to understand and interpret the allegorical levels. Without that foundation, Christian's episodic adventures may seem too disconnected for them-despite McCaughrean's lively retelling. Cockcroft's illustrations, softly rendered drawings interspersed with dramatic double-page paintings, emphasize Christian's struggles. This is a limited purchase for libraries in need of a children's edition of this classic. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progess (Eerdmans, 1994), retold by Gary Schmidt and illustrated by Barry Moser, is a slightly more modernized version and features a multiethnic cast of characters.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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