A boy walks with his beloved grandfather in the woods. It is a perfect time to slow down, to savor the natural world, to ask questions, and to stand in silence before the wonders that abound. The wise grandfather observes that trees "pray" as they reach for the sky; rocks and pebbles pray as they sit still and are silent; water prays in all kinds of ways; and the wind prays as it "whispers and moans and sighs." Birds pray with their songs, but human beings pray some of "the most beautiful prayers of all" by giving thanks at a table, making music, or painting a picture.
The boy is impressed with all these insights and asks "Are our prayers answered, Granddad?"
Grandad responds "If we listen very closely, a prayer is often its own answer. . . . Like the trees and the winds and waters, we pray because we are here — not to change the world, but to change ourselves."
When his grandfather dies, the boy is very sad and lonely. As a teenager, he finds that it is hard to pray anymore. But then one day while walking, he hears the natural world praying just like his grandfather had told him it did. He feels connected to the trees, the flowers, the singing birds, and his grandfather. Changing himself, the boy is ready to live a life of wonder and gratitude.
This marvelous picture book for children six years and older is a testament to the intimate relationship writer Douglas Wood had to his grandfather. The beautiful outdoor settings are vividly conveyed by the exquisite watercolor drawings by P.J. Lynch. Here prayer is to be discovered in nature: it only takes a changed perspective to see and hear these prayers all around us. This children's picture book is a classic that deserves many readings. It won the Christopher Medal.