Douglas Wood was fortunate enough to have a close, loving relationship with his grandfather. It didn't matter what we did. I just wanted to be with him. He always made me feel like the most important person in the world. In Grandad's Prayers of the Earth, Wood draws on his close childhood experience with his grandfather to give young readers a memorable perspective on nature and on prayer. The young boy and his grandfather often walk in the woods, and on one of these walks the boy asks about prayers. In reply, grandfather describes the prayers of trees as they reach for the sky, of rocks as they are still and silent, of streams, of tall grass, of birds. Each living thing gives its life to the beauty of all life, and that gift is its prayer. When the boy then asks about the prayers of people and if they are answered, his grandfather shares wisdom that is both simple and complex, the kind that children understand and theologians debate. The child's real test of faith comes when Grandad dies and no amount of prayer will bring him back. The strength and beauty of the words are perfectly matched by P.J. Lynch's illustrations. From spread to spread, readers will see the boy and his grandfather in different perspectives, with beautiful outdoor settings. Lynch portrays just as well the older boy's loneliness after Grandad's death.
Children's book readers have come to expect good things from both Wood and Lynch, but the unusual symbiosis of art and text in Grandad's Prayers of the Earth is rare in picture books. It may be explained by the fact that Lynch spent a week with Wood in Minnesota, taking pictures and getting to know the same paths, rocks, and trees that Wood and his grandfather had explored nearly 40 years before. In any case, the resulting work is a timeless treasure. It is a book, says Wood, for anyone who has ever had a woods to walk, a prayer to whisper, or a hero to love. Etta Wilson is a grandmother and enjoys reading books.