Children’s Bio of John Wycliffe

Morning Star of the Reformation , Andy Thomson
(Bob Jones University Press, 1988) pb., 134pp.

This is a kid’s biography of John Wycliffe. The author has created a fictional account of Wycliffe’s life from the time he first came to Oxford as a student. I was a bit frustrated with this book at first because the editor’s note at the beginning did not clarify what intended to be factual and what was created by the author. However, along the way I discovered the “Author’s Note” at the end- yes, I should have checked more carefully when we began! 🙂 The “Author’s Note” made clear that the young friends of Wycliffe were fictional but that all the key events were factual.

While I was still uncertain about the book, my boys were already talking about how much they liked it. It is not at the level of Allen French or C. S. Lewis, but it was a good read. I always wonder in books like this how much the main character is molded into our own expectations, but this book does provide a good introduction to the problems of the medieval church in England and the efforts of Wycliffe to address these. The book really “got good” towards the latter half as you see Wycliffe encountering pressures and persecutions. His steadfastness was a powerful example for us, and lead to good conversation, especially as we talked about the continuing need for reformation in our day and the costs that will come our way. At this point knowing that some of Wycliffe’s associates in the book (as pointed out in the Author’s Note) eventually recanted under pressure, made it even more poignant.

One should know that a children’s bio of this size will not be the place for a definitive treatment. However, the aim of this book is to present an accurate portrayal of life in the time, the issues and pressures of the day and the basic work of the person. In these goals this book succeeded very well. We would warmly recommend this book.

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