Whistle Down the Wind

In ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ some children find a stranger in a barn. They believe he is Jesus. There is an escaped killer is on the loose…


The children are caring and compassionate towards ‘Jesus’. He respects them and enjoys their company.

They are very protective of Jesus. Convinced and excited about their discovery they tell their friends

They bring him gifts – food, toothpaste, cups of tea, their cat too keep him warm. A mutual, respectful positive relationship develops…

Jesus is seen through the eyes of the children. Jesus words:

‘Father…you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to children.’

‘…unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’


‘Jesus’ is a man, sick and hungry, but charming, considerate and compassionate. We wonder how he would have turned out if he had always been treated with kindness and respect.

Jesus has been presented as an outlaw, a clown, a poet, a revolutionary, a teacher, a sorcerer, a politician…

Here ‘Jesus’ is an escaped convict. A wanted man who has been tried for crimes in a human court…

The adults pay lip-service to Christian standards but misunderstand ‘Jesus’. He is outside their world, a dangerous, scary criminal.

To the children he is a good man, a friend, who they care about, treat with reverence and accept with child-like trust.

I enjoyed the book because:

I could believe that the man both was and wasn’t Jesus.

It is full of Christian symbolism and parallels to the Jesus narrative. It is neither too religious nor offensive.

It addresses issues of humanity and wisdom, our capacity for forgiveness, love and redemption, innocence and optimism in unwavering faith.

The ending is ambiguous. We don’t know what happened to Jesus, or how encountering Jesus affected the children.  


‘Whistle Down the Wind’ – book by Mary Hayley Bell (1958); It reminds me of Enid Blyton children in secret societies who have adventures. I enjoyed being reminded of what it is to be a ‘sneak’.

Mary Hayley Bell married the actor Sir John Mills. The film (1961) starred their daughter Hayley Mills. Stage show with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber 1996… The three are quite different… locations, endings… (!)

‘Too Small to Ignore’ by Wess Stafford is the Christian book that has influenced me most when thinking of children.

‘The Outlaw’ by Larry Norman is a song I return to that portrays Jesus as different characters…

Matthew 11:25, 18:3

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