This post contains affiliate links.  As part of Cuddle Bug’s Level F Sonlight curriculum, we recently read Mission to Cathay by Madeleine A. Polland.  This is my third time through the curriculum, but I had never read this book before.  (Maybe it wasn’t included in the earlier edition. or my older two kids decided they didn’t want to read it?  I have no idea!)  While the book was good, neither of us would have read this if it hadn’t been part of the curriculum.

Mission to Cathay by Madeleine Polland

About Mission to Cathay by Madeleine A. Polland

This book tells the story of Father Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary who entered China in the late 1500s to share God’s word with the Chinese citizens.  Father Ricci dresses in Chinese clothes and brings scientific items to China to interest the Chinese people.  In this fictionalized story of the real Father Ricci, the priest also has a Chinese orphan who helps and often translates for him.

A subplot develops when the orphan boy befriends another boy who turns out to be the niece of the mandarin.

My Thoughts on the Book

While we both learned from this book, it wasn’t our favorite.  The pacing was slow, and Cuddle Bug figured out the twist in the story long before it occurred.  (I hadn’t even thought of the twist, which slightly appalled her.)

However, I enjoyed learning what life was like for these missionaries.  As hard as they tried to blend in, they routinely unintentionally broke many of the Chinese rules such as when they they hired workers to build their church, and the workers quit because of their superstitions.  I appreciate that the priests were open to dressing in Chinese clothing and even when some Chinese converted, the priests respected the Chinese people’s desire to continue with ancestor worshipping and did not try to stop them.  It was the pope who asked that it stop.

The substory with the mandarin’s neice also shed light on what life was like for girls in China during that time.

I give Mission to Cathay by Madeleine Polland 3.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.  There is a lot to learn in this book, but the pace is slow and the story is too long.

Read More

Lottie Moon: Giving Her All for China {A Book Review}

Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China {A Book Review}



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