Learning to appreciate every little thing in life is a spiritual practice that no one's too young to cultivate. Babies can pick it up by osmosis from grateful people around them. As they get a bit older, they can also relish uplifting poems and prayers like the ones that veteran anthologists June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling have gathered in this volume.
Starting with a section on Morning and ending with Nightfall and Dreams, this book covers themes at the heart of our days: The World Around us, Graces and Blessings, Love and Kindness, and Family and Friends. Illustrator Helen Cann brings us imaginative pictures with a gentle, pastoral touch: a boy in his pajamas gazing down at fields and distant towns from atop a magic carpet to accompany Walter de la Mare's poem about finding the way to "Somewhere"; two squirrels scamper by an ocean-side tree that simultaneously displays the four seasons in quadrants of its branches for Jill Noblit MacGregor's "Simple Graces."
We found many familiar friends among these poets and spiritual guides — like Helen Keller, Rabbi Rami Shapiro (see excerpt), Emily Dickinson, and Rudolf Steiner — and many names new to us and equally capable of lighting an inner spark. The selection from Emily Dickinson literally does so:
I'll tell you how the sun rose, —
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
"That must have been the sun."
The 51 poems are in easy-to-read language — whether about feeding the fishes or coloring hearts to share with passersby — intended for four to ten year old readers. We suspect that the words will sink deeply into minds and hearts as a lasting well of inspiration.