Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saying Grace

In a world where illness and financial difficulties are mentioned daily in the news, it's easy to forget to give thanks. That's why Saying Grace: A Prayer of Thanksgiving by Virginia Kroll is an especially welcomed new book. Although Kroll admits in a forward that prayers of thanksgiving go back to biblical times, in this book she imagines how "saying grace" might have become an American tradition.

The book opens in a Pilgrim village in the 17th century. A young girl named Grace is worried about the coming winter, which neighbors seem to think will be a harsh one. Grace remembers that during another harsh winter, her sister was born premature and nearly didn't survive - and her father barely made it home in a blizzard. The village also lost many to pnuemonia. Grace doesn't think she go through such harships again.

Her friend Hannah says, ""You're a fretter, Grace," and her mother tells her, "Stop fretting and say a prayer instead."

When winter snows come, Grace goes to her room and reads the Psalms. "Please send us a gentle winter," she prays. Her prayer is answered; the winter isn't harsh, and soon spring comes and Grace is working in the family garden. When harvest time arrives, one young man in the village marries a woman from another village. She tells them her people have a tradition of a harvest feast. Grace's village decides to adopt this idea.

As Grace works hard to prepare for the feast, she notices how squirrels with nuts in their hands look like they are praying and how gulls seem to be praising God in song. When her village gathers for the feast, she stops them: "Shouldn't we first say thank you to God and ask a blessing?" Everyone thinks this is a great idea and they ask Grace to do the honors.
"From that day forward, at every meal the family took turns 'saying grace.' Mama often quoted verses from the Bible. Papa talked to God as if he were an old friend, seated right there with them...Grace wrote several new prayer-poems of her own. Sometimes she used words like bounty and giving. But she never, ever forgot the thanks."
What I Like: Grace is a true-to-life character, complete with flaws. I love how she learns to trust God by reading his word and giving up her concerns in prayer. This story is also a fun way to imagine how the phrase "saying grace" might have come about. The illustrations by Timothy Ladwig are full of rich autumn scenes.
What I Dislike: Nothing, really, although I think the book would be stronger if we learned that God doesn't always say "yes" to our prayers.

Overall Rating: Very Good.
Age Appeal: 4 to 8.
Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 2009; ISBN: 978-0310712107; hardback, $15.99
Buy Now at for $11.99
OR buy at for $10.87
Special Info: Read our other reviews of Virginia Kroll and Timothy Ladwig books.

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