cover image Grace for an Island Meal

Grace for an Island Meal

Rachel Field, , illus. by Cynthia Jabar. . FSG/Kroupa, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-32759-0

Jabar (The Sound of Day, the Sound of Night ) selects details from a previously published prayer by Fields (Prayer for a Child) and constructs a visual narrative about a family journey to visit friends on an island off the coast of Maine. The title page and initial illustrations feature an adult and two children climbing aboard a boat with a loaf on a breadboard ("Bless this board and bless this bread") covered by a blue dish towel (inspired by the later line, "Bless this cloth of woven blue"). The wind carries off the blue towel and, as the prayer recounts another blessing ("Bless these chanterelles that grew in secret under mossy bough"), the children find the blue cloth covering a cluster of mushrooms. Fields's self-consciously poetic syntax at times seems designed to fit the rhyme scheme rather than to convey any real meaning. Like a child's drawing or a folk painting, Jabar's illustrations often look out of proportion and incorporate a flattened perspective (e.g., the child's head on the cover painting is larger than her torso, an impossibly huge cow towers over the children as they pick daisies). While the paintings are exuberant and action-filled, the artificial primitivism often seems jarring. Still, the book's bright colors, cheery interaction between friends and an emphasis on gratitude for simple pleasures will likely appeal to youngsters. Ages 3-6. (May)