cover image AMAZING GRACES: Prayers and Poems for Children

AMAZING GRACES: Prayers and Poems for Children

, , illus. by Jan Palmer. . HarperCollins, $12.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15566-7

With its gold jacket, small trim size (61/8"x71/2") and sentimental cover art of a cherubic blond boy slumbering with a spaniel, this anthology telegraphs its candidacy for gift-giving. Cotner (editor of adult compilations including Graces and Animal Blessings) assembles prayers and poems from across the centuries written by Christian and Jewish clergy, writers and poets of all ages, from the obscure to notables including Madeleine L'Engle, Robert Browning, Ogden Nash, Albert Schweitzer and Margaret Wise Brown. Poems written by children are interspersed with such favorites as the ancient Breton prayer: "Protect me, O Lord;/ My boat is so small,/ And your sea is so big." Palmer (illustrator of the My First Raggedy Ann and Andy series) favors frontal compositions with Rockwellian overtones: rosy-cheeked children in red boots splash in the rain; a docile boy and girl bow their heads as they sit before food laid upon a child-size table; a woman proudly poses with the pie she's made. Some may feel the pictures border on the saccharine (an illustration of kids sliding down a rainbow, for example, flattens the robust poem it accompanies, Eve Merriam's "Giving Thanks Giving Thanks"), while others may find the nostalgic imagery a fitting tribute to childhood innocence. All ages. (Sept.)