cover image I WONDER AS I WANDER


Gwenyth Swain, , illus. by Ronald Himler. . Eerdmans, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5214-4

The Appalachian folk song, one of many collected and recorded by John Jacob Niles in the early '30s and one traditionally sung at Christmastime, inspired this heartwarming and stimulating picture book. Swain (Johnny Appleseed) imagines the writer of the song as a child, one Annie Morgan, who confidently grapples with questions of faith. Admiration for her father, a wandering preacher, doesn't keep her from wondering about the paradoxes in his messages ("I want to know how [Jesus] can be a king and be the raggediest man you'd meet along the road. But I hold my lip"); commendably, the author doesn't try to smooth these problems out for Annie or for readers. Himler's (The Wall) soft-lined pencil-and-watercolor artwork complements the text's homey period flavor and regional dialect. All ages. (Sept.)