From School Library Journal
Grade 2–5—Brooks has assembled a collection of traditional and modern prayers, many of them composed by people living in war-torn regions like Bosnia, Northern Ireland, and the Middle East. Selections written by St. Francis of Assisi, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Lao-Tzu round out the collection. By selecting prayers representing a variety of religions, Brooks reinforces his unifying message that people of different faiths actually share many of the same beliefs. In a brief introduction and subsequent explanatory notes, he expands upon this theme, reminding readers that peace begins on an individual level and that "we also need to live in peace with our world." One of the shortest but most powerful verses is a traditional prayer from Africa. "The world was not left to us by our parents./It was lent to us by our children." Although the verses address such adult themes as war, violence, world peace, and forgiveness, they convey important lessons for readers of all ages. Daly's subtle illustrations are painted in a varied palette of soft pastel and jewel-toned acrylics and feature people of many nations drawn in the artist's characteristic economical style. This title could be paired with Brooks's A World of Prayers
(Eerdmans, 2006) and is a good supplement to more comprehensive volumes like Mary Joslin's The Lion Book of Best-Loved Prayers
(Lion, 2008).—Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA
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Starting with the cover image of multicultural figures curving around the earth, this picture-book collection of prayers sends universal messages of peace and global unity. Brooks, an English vicar, has pulled from diverse religious traditions on pages that feature Muslim, Native American, Jewish, Christian, Baha’i, Shinto, and Sikh prayers. Almost all of the selections are simple, immediate, and rhythmic, and some of the most powerful entries are written by children living in zones of conflict. Adults may wonder about a few attributions, as in two anonymous messages that “were written during the 1990s conflict, Bosnia”; an author’s note describing sources would have been welcome. Daly’s delicately rendered, brightly hued paintings greatly increase the impact of the words in scenes that acknowledge the realities of war even as they promote peace, as in one spread of soldiers fighting, while in the foreground, figures shake hands next to rainbow flags. Children of many backgrounds will be stirred by these prayers, which close with a call to action: “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me!” Preschool-Grade 3. --Gillian Engberg