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Grandad's Prayers of the Earth


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Gr 1-3-In spectacular double-page outdoor scenes shown from a variety of perspectives, a young boy and his grandfather wander along woodsy lanes, gaze up at towering pines, teeter across a rushing stream, and dream by a lake lit with sunset glow. These beautiful, meditative, realistic watercolors of nature in all seasons are interspersed with close-ups of the two as they talk about prayer. Grandad explains that all earthly beings pray: trees in reaching for heaven, rocks by being still and silent, streams while splashing and flowing, flowers by releasing their fragrance, birds in song, and so on. Human beings pray in many ways, he says, and all of the prayers are valid as long as they are true and heartfelt. When Grandad dies, the boy's prayers, no matter how fervent, can not bring him back. Consequently, he rejects the practice for some time, but eventually turns again to the natural world and begins to hear the prayers of trees, breezes, birds, and waters, just as his grandfather had said he would. The boy, now a teenager, then gives thanks for his grandfather's life, feeling that he is close and the world seems right again. Without mentioning any specific God or belief, the thoughtful text celebrates all creation and is perfectly complemented by the moving, expressive illustrations.-Patricia Pearl Dole, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

The comfortable conversations between a boy and his grandfather become the springboard for exploring ideas about prayer in this poignant picture book. On their walks together in the woods, Grandad tells the boy that trees, rocks and streams pray, as sure as people do: "The tall grass prays as it waves its arms beneath the sky, and flowers pray as they breathe their sweetness into the air." The boy listens hard to hear the natural world's prayers, but never quite hears them. Later, as he grieves the death of his grandfather, the slightly older boy comes to understand Grandad's messageÄin a delicately handled epiphany, he seems to grasp that letting one's God-given beauty shine, and finding the beauty in others and in the world, is a prayer in itself. Readers may well draw other interpretations, but, in any case, will likely view the idea of prayer in a new light. Wood's (Old Turtle) reassuring tone and pleasing imagery serve as a framework for the powerful love between grandparent and child that lies at the heart of this story. These solid elements help make a difficult religious concept somewhat more concrete for children. As Wood's text (wisely) offers no definitive answer to the boy's queries about prayer, it could easily serve as a starting point for family discussions. And perhaps best of all, readers are treated to a peaceful nature walk in Lynch's (The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey) soft, careful scenes of man and boy enjoying rushing streams, quiet twilight skies and brilliant green leaves and grasses glistening in the sun. Ages 6-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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