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Children's Literature Reviews
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Grandad's prayers of the earth
Douglas Wood ; illustrated by P.J. Lynch.
Contributor biographical information
Publisher description
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 1999.
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 29 cm.


Because Grandad has explained how all things in the natural world pray and make a gift to the beauty of life, his grandson is comforted when Grandad dies.

Best Books:

Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 13th Edition, 2002 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Books About Trauma, Tragedy and Loss, 2002 ; Children's Book Council; United States
Los Angeles' 100 Best Books, 1999 ; IRA Children's Literature and Reading SIG and the Los Angeles Unified School District; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award, 2000 Winner Picture Books United States
Christopher Award, 2000 Winner All Ages United States
Parents' Choice Award, 2000 Recommended Story Books United States
Storytelling World Resource Award, 2000 Honor Book Stories for Young Listeners United States

Curriculum Tools:

Link to Marketing Article on Publisher Site

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader" "
Interest Level Lower Grade" "
Book Level 4.1" "
Accelerated Reader Points 0.5" "" "


Shelley Townsend-Hudson (Booklist, December 1, 1999 (Vol. 96, No. 7))
Author of the popular Old Turtle (1992), Wood portrays the loving relationship between a boy and his grandfather as they talk about the subject of prayer. The poetic text conveys a deep sense of wonder about the natural world, while focusing on the relationship between the characters. When, years later, the grandfather dies, the boy is comforted by remembering his grandfather's gentle ways, his love of the natural world, and his deep faith. In a style that is controlled, sentimental, and filled with metaphors (there are many examples of how elements in nature reflect the spirit of prayer), Wood presents the subjects of prayer and death in a way that stirs the imagination and offers hope. Lynch's lovely, realistic watercolors suit the emotions perfectly. Category: For the Young. 1999, Candlewick, $16.99. Ages 5-8.

Mary Quattlebaum (Children's Literature)
Douglas Wood celebrates the special relationship between grandparent and child in Grandad's Prayers of the Earth. While walking in the woods with his grandfather, a young boy asks about prayers. The older man tells him about trees reaching to heaven and stones sitting silent and streams praising with movement, but the boy isn't sure he can hear the voices of the natural world. When his grandfather dies, though, the boy finds solace in listening to the prayers his grandfather loved. P.J. Lynch's detailed watercolors convey the quiet beauty of the changing seasons. 1999, Candlewick, $16.99. Ages 6 up.

Judy Silverman (Children's Literature)
Grandad and his grandson, who narrates this lovely, moving book, have a wonderfully close relationship. When the grandson asks questions, Grandad answers them, even the hard ones. One day the child asks Grandad about prayers. And Grandad tells him that all things on earth pray--trees, rocks, streams, animals, birds--everything. Sometimes the streams "pray with laughter, chuckling to their friends the rocks...who "pray silently...The wind prays as it whispers and moans and sighs...It (seems as if it) is ...singing a hymn at the same time." People pray with words, Grandad says. They use prayers already written or their own words, he tells the boy, and "the words will always be right if they are real and true and come from the heart." And prayers don't always ask for something. These prayers are often their own answers. " is when we change ourselves... that the world is changed." This is a lot for the boy to absorb, and he doesn't really understand it until after Grandad's death. Listening to the eloquent silence of the woods, he can finally hear the trees praying, and as he joins in, "for the first time in a long time, the world seemed just right." This is a beautiful book that is truly religious without being an advocate of any one religion. I highly recommend this book. 1999, Candlewick, $16.99. Ages 6 up.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
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 message--in 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.)


LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.W84738 Gr 1999
98047805 [Fic]
076360660X (hardcover : alk. paper)
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