Gratitudes and Graces: Book of Poetry, Prayers, & Songs of Thanks

Oprn Drdsmr: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

New Book Serves Up Gratitudes and Graces

Master Eckhart, who died almost seven hundred years ago said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.” – From Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving is the newest collaboration between Katherine Paterson and Pamela Dalton. Paterson, a Newberry Medalist and author of some of the most beloved children’s books, including Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved, selected over 50 poems, prayers, and praise songs that reflect on the act of giving thanks.

The book is divided into four sections – “Gather Round The Table,” “A Celebration of Life,” “The Spirit Within,” and “Circle of Community” – and each section begins with Paterson’s personal reflections on being thankful. Universal principles of gratitude and joy are served up from across cultural and religious traditions, pulled from songs and spirituals, and echoed in the voices of people through the ages. A Vietnamese farmers’ prayer, an ancient haiku, a Shaker song, a Pueblo blessing, poems from Emily Dickinson and Wendell Berry, the words of Hildegard of Bingen and Martin Luther King Jr., are just some of the nuggets Paterson offers…

The text is illumined by Dalton’s exquisite scherenschnitte – the art of cut paper designs. Her process includes the exacting work of minute cuts, antiquing the paper in a coffee solution, then ironing, and applying watercolors. The resulting images are delicate and detailed, with a lacework quality that imparts an ethereal feel to each page. Ferns, berries, wheat sheaths, garlands, birds, rabbits, bee skeps, a garden of sunflowers, a child fiddling – all come to life under Dalton’s skilled hands and provide a beautiful accompaniment to the collection of meditations and graces.

This is a book to share with the whole family, and not just during the Thanksgiving season. For giving thanks is best served every day of the year.

Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving edited by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton. Published by Handprint Books of Chronicle Books, 2013. 56 pgs. ISBN: 978-1452113395


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cheli Mennella

Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.

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