Bishop of Youth Anba Moussa writes in his introduction to Mary Mansour’s Rehlat al-Sabaa Umniyaat (The Journey of the Seven Wishes): “This is a beautiful children’s
story that I would like one day to see turned into a feature film. I leave my dear reader to explore these pages, with a chance to present a similar gift to Baby Jesus.”
The Journey of the Seven Wishes is published jointly by Downtown Churches and the Jotic Training Centre, with illustrations in colour. It begins with Piro, a small boy who decides not to join his peers when each of them is asked by their Sunday School teacher to offer Baby Jesus a gift to decorate His manger.
“I don’t have enough money to buy a gift,” Piro says. “But I love Jesus my Lord, so what can I do?” He wishes that he could stop being a human and turn into anything at all that was worthy of being presented to Jesus in His manger.
The book’s pivotal story opens when an angel appears in Piro’s bedroom and takes him on a journey of seven wishes, where Piro is introduced one by one to seven options of something to be to be turned into. The angel says he can pick just one.
Along his journey Piro meets a manger, a donkey, the magi, a star, gold, incense and myrrh. However after hearing what each of them has to say about itself, Piro decides he does not want to change and would rather keep his human form and offer himself to Jesus.
Just as they are
There are beautiful and expressive illustrations on every page, but its length and detailed elaboration meant some of the child readers to whom I offered the book devoured only the captivating illustrations and stopped reading the text after the first few pages of what they described as the “long text”.
Inspired by Anba Moussa’s suggestion in the Introduction, I believe the story told by Mansour within the pages of this book would be better received by children in the form of a film, especially considering the minute details it mentions.
The Journey of the Seven Wishes sends a beautiful and constructive message to children, and that is that Baby Jesus wants them as they are and does not require them to change. He sees potential in each one of us, as He did with Piro. However Mansour chose to convey this message through an approach of sorts, with each of the seven characters that Piro meets depicted as nagging and dissatisfied with his stance and sufferings, to the point that some of the characters scolded at Piro for merely contemplating to become like him. I believe the characters’ behaviour as depicted by the book contradicts with the spirit of submission and gentleness that is highlighted in the end.
6 January 2013