cover image GIVING THANKS


Jonathan London, Ruth Elwin Harris, , illus. by Gregory Manchess. . Candlewick, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1680-9

One brilliant autumn day, a boy and his father hike through woods and fields. " 'Thank you, Mother Earth./ Thank you, Father Sky./ Thank you for this day,' " the boy begins. "This is what my father says,/ every morning,/ standing in the field/ near our house." (The text explains that "Like his Indian friends—/ .../ Dad believes that the things of nature/ are a gift.") London (When the Fireflies Come ) and Manchess (To Capture the Wind ) pay more attention to emotional truths than literal ones. Although the boy narrates, London does not replicate a child's voice; the brief text has the lyrical cadence of prayer. "[My father] gives thanks/ to the frogs and the crickets/ singing down by the creek—" the boy says as the pair walks by a marsh, "and to all the tiny beings/ with six or eight legs,/ weaving their tiny stories/ close to the earth." Manchess follows suit with luxuriant, full-bleed oils. Fittingly, father and son remain small and mostly peripheral figures in these sumptuously lit landscapes. With generous brushstrokes and burnished colors, the artist takes readers into the thick of natural wonders, whether it's a green and gold blur of cattails waving in the breeze, or the flurry of café-au-lait feathers as a covey of quails rises from a thicket. "To me, it's a little/ embarrassing/ to say thanks/ to trees and things," the boy confesses. "But Dad says it become a habit;/ it makes you feel good." Without much drama, this story may not move readers to develop that habit, nevertheless, these pictures will likely inspire them to marvel at nature's wonders. Ages 3-7. (Nov.)