The Dangerous Journey of Sherman The Sheep is the allegorical tale of a young ram born into the Shepherd's flock who, as he journeys into adulthood, is tempted to find "excitement" outside the flock. As Sherman strays further from his flock he comes in contact with a group of sheep who tell tales of Pleasure Mountain and the adventure to be found on its slopes. Sherman's father, carefully observing this interaction, warns Sherman that the mountain is really called Sin Mountain and that he should stay far from it. Sherman, however, soon begins to see the peace and contentment of the Shepherd's flock as boredom and decides to slip away and sneak quick trip to the top of Pleasure Mountain just to satisfy his curiosity.
Sherman's journey is neither as quick nor easy as anticipated. He is quickly afflicted by many trials and temptations, sees the evil behavior of the other flock and eventually finds himself trapped and near death. The story takes a turn as Sherman calls for the Good Shepherd, returns home with an understanding of "the bigger picture," and even brings a fearful stray home to the Shepherd's flock.
I used this book as a devotional with my six and nine year olds with great success. This beautifully written book, with a fairly advanced vocabulary, was still easily understandable by my youngest. In fact, this was the first non-picture book my son (6) has sat still for. Not only that, he was eager to hear more each day! Though geared for "tweens," the story situations can easily be applied to anyone, from kindergarten through adult. Each chapter instigated a good deal of discussion as we compared it to situations we have encountered in our lives.
For example, in one scene Sherman comes upon a berry bush. Being quite hungry he begins eating the berries but soon realizes he can't seem to stop. He keeps plunging his tender nose deeper into the bush, being cut by the thorns, desperate to get even more berries. While teens may compare this scene to how drugs affect a person, my children and I likened it to gluttony and eating too many sweets even though we know it is not good for us. It was most interesting to see how my children viewed each scene as I would ask, "Have you ever experienced anything like that?"
I highly recommend this book to everyone! Issues of peer pressure, pride, adventure-seeking, lack-of-contentment, and distrust are issues that affect us all. I can see it used as a family devotional, in a Sunday School class or youth group, or simply read privately. One of its greatest strengths, however, is the sharing it facilitates. I highly recommend using it in a setting, either family or group, where you can take time to reflect and share on what has been read. I can truly say this book is a must-read!