HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Prince of Peace: or The Beautiful Life of Jesus
Author: Isabella Macdonald Alden
Illustrator: Heinrich Hofmann
Publisher: Lothrop Publishing Company, revised edition published in 1898
Related website: www.isabellamacdonaldalden.com/about.html (author)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Suitable for all ages
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Alden, Isabella Macdonald. The Prince of Peace: or The Beautiful Life of Jesus (first edition published in 1890 by John Y. Huber Co., Philadelphia, PA; revised edition published in 1898 by Lothrop Publishing Company, Boston, MA). Isabella Macdonald Alden was an author of didactic children’s fiction in the late 1800s, using her stories to emphasize right over wrong, redemption from destructive lifestyles, and the development of good character traits. Because so much modern children’s literature is based on secular humanism and is steeped in “moral neutrality,” which actually means that it promotes immorality, Mrs. Alden’s books are being republished by various companies, many of them operated by homeschoolers, for parents who want their children to read books which illustrate godliness. Last year, I read A Charge to Keep (originally The Man of the House) by her and reviewed it. Mrs. Alden edited a magazine under the title Pansy, which was her nickname as a child, with stories for children and sometimes used “Pansy” as a pseudonym.
A couple of years ago, when I was unpacking my books from storage, I came across a book about which I had almost completely forgotten. The title on the cover is The Prince of Peace: A Life of Christ by Pansy. I had inherited it years before with my grandfather’s library and remember seeing it in his house when I was a child but had never paid much attention to it and really knew nothing about it. But when I saw the name “Pansy,” I had to wonder if it were the same author. So, opening to the title page, I found that it was—Isabella M. Alden. Subtitled “A graphic and thoughtful narrative of the pathways trodden, the scenes visited, the burdens borne, the help rendered, the blessings bestowed and the lessons taught by Jesus the Christ when on His earthly pilgrimage from the manger to the throne,” it is divided into 72 chapters and recounts the life of Christ from the gospel records in Scripture with simple language intended to be understood by children.
There are places when Mrs. Alden “fills in the gaps” but is always careful to say that this is just her imagination as to how it might have been, making a clear distinction between that and the actual account. On a few occasions, her attempts to explain things on the level of children end up sounding a bit strange and some common denominational errors pop up. She likens the commission of the former demoniac to “ordaining a home missionary” and illustrates with a story told by “the Rev. Mr. Jones.” When describing the judgment scene of Matt. 25, she says, “It is a picture of the hour when Jesus shall gather before him all the nations of the earth. At that time his kingdom, about which the disciples had been so anxious, will be set up.” And she keeps referring to the synagogue as “the Jewish church,” which is not necessarily all that inaccurate but might be a little confusing to some children. However, many times her observations are very insightful. This would make a very interesting Bible story book to read aloud for children’s bedtime or even for family devotions.