Grandad's Prayers of the Earth

Douglas Wood, Author, P. J. Lynch, Illustrator Candlewick Press (MA) $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-0660-2
The comfortable conversations between a boy and his grandfather become the springboard for exploring ideas about prayer in this poignant picture book. On their walks together in the woods, Grandad tells the boy that trees, rocks and streams pray, as sure as people do: ""The tall grass prays as it waves its arms beneath the sky, and flowers pray as they breathe their sweetness into the air."" The boy listens hard to hear the natural world's prayers, but never quite hears them. Later, as he grieves the death of his grandfather, the slightly older boy comes to understand Grandad's message--in a delicately handled epiphany, he seems to grasp that letting one's God-given beauty shine, and finding the beauty in others and in the world, is a prayer in itself. Readers may well draw other interpretations, but, in any case, will likely view the idea of prayer in a new light. Wood's (Old Turtle) reassuring tone and pleasing imagery serve as a framework for the powerful love between grandparent and child that lies at the heart of this story. These solid elements help make a difficult religious concept somewhat more concrete for children. As Wood's text (wisely) offers no definitive answer to the boy's queries about prayer, it could easily serve as a starting point for family discussions. And perhaps best of all, readers are treated to a peaceful nature walk in Lynch's (The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey) soft, careful scenes of man and boy enjoying rushing streams, quiet twilight skies and brilliant green leaves and grasses glistening in the sun. Ages 6-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
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