Heidi Holder, Illustrator . Front Street $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-932425-03-1

Nature lovers and fans of the talented Holder (Aesop's Fables ) will find much to appreciate in the true-to-life, elegantly composed watercolors of flora and fauna in this picture book; however, as an interpretation of the well-known prayer, it is likely to cause confusion. Each spread pairs a line from the prayer and depicts animals seemingly expressing the line's intent. For example, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" is accompanied by a picture of a leopard reaching out its paw in friendship to a goat. Endnotes cite the passage from Isaiah about the leopard lying down with the young goat, and comment also about the meaning of birds and beasts in the borders that frame the central image as if it were an altar panel. But when Holder moves away from accepted symbolism, she enters shaky ground. Although she takes pains to depict the natural world accurately in her art, she anthropomorphizes it in her interpretations, with unsettling results. Birds fighting over an insect become the subjects of "And forgive us our trespasses." Parents helping kids learn about exercising free will and desiring God's grace may be displeased by the contradictions here (If God created the birds in this way, how can they sin?). The notes do little to clarify or solidify the meaning of the prayer. Moreover, they can be problematic, as in Holder's statement that butterflies traditionally symbolize "the resurrection of all humankind." Stunning as this book is, it may appeal more to those who are looking for a beautifully made picture book than for a solid religion title. All ages. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
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