HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Gold Thread
Author: Norman Macleod
Cover Illustrator: Ron Adair
Publisher: Whole Heart Ministries, 2001
Related website: www.wholeheart.org (publisher)
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: Ages 9 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Macleod, Norman. The Gold Thread (originally published in 1861; republished in 2001 by Whole Heart Ministries, Monument, CO). Prince Eric is out in the dark, treacherous Hemlock Forest with his father, the good King Magnus. Young Eric disobeys his father and loses the Gold Thread by which he can find his way home. He meets Wolf the Swineherd who attacks and tries to rob him. They fight, but Eric wins and then forgives Wolf, letting the swineherd go. After this, the prince is captured by Wolf’s boss Ralph, the wicked king of the robbers, and imprisoned in Ralph’s castle. Will Eric be able to escape? Is there anyone to help him? Where is the Gold Thread? And will he ever make it back home to his father?
Norman Macleod (1812-1872), a Scottish Presbyterian minister, first told this story to his own children. It was serialized in the 1860 Volume I of his magazine for children Good Words. Then it was published as a book in 1861. Apparently, the book form was substantially edited. I first became familiar with the title of Mcleod’s book, which is a parable or allegory influenced by both Jesus’s story of the Prodigal Son and John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, from its 2001 republication by Lamplighter Press in a retelling for contemporary readers by editor Mark Hamby. We love the Lamplighter books and have read many of them, but I chose the Whole Heart Ministries version of this one edited by Clay Clarkson because it restores Macleod’s original, unedited version.
The full title of the Whole Heart edition is The Gold Thread: And Other Stories of Young Faith. It includes four other lovely tales for children: “The Rose Child” by Johanna Spyri, author of Heidi; “The Five Happy Weeks” by Margaret E. Sangster; “The Four Happy Days” by Frances Ridley Havergal, a famous hymn writer; and “Stories from the Land of Faith” by George Critchley. All of them impart important spiritual principles for youngsters, but the Critchley stories may bring tears to your eyes as they did mine. I especially prefer books like this because I fully agree with Clarkson’s observation about most modern youth literature that “Children’s native innocence is no longer considered something to be protected and cultivated, but rather something to be corrected” (and, in fact, violated!).