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A Song of Giving Thanks

By John Bucchino
Illustrated Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen

    Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks is another book in a continuing picture book trend -- books clearly written to touch adults but packaged as picture books. For adults, it's an illustrated book made from a moving and beautiful song about counting your blessings, even in difficult times. It would make a lovely gift for adults who need a little lift. And for Art Garfunkel fans (which I readily admit to), the accompanying CD with the song is a delight to hear.

   For children, it's a bewildering collection of emotional/spiritual ideas framed in very grown-up lyrics like "There may be times when I lose the light" (with an illustration of a brightly lit autumn day) and "whatever stone life may sling" (with an illustration that contains no stones in sight) making the ideas simply too abstract. My 5-year-old daughter (who has been known to sit through read-aloud sessions from very long stories) grew fidgety and bored after only a few pages. This is a lovely song -- but it's definitely an adult message. The illustrations by Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen are luminous but seem to be hampered by the total lack of action in the song so we get lots of pictures of a child looking -- looking at a sunset, looking at a tree, looking at a bird, looking at a house, looking at a mom. The illustrations are warm and loving but devoid of story which only adds to the disconnect between this book and children.

    So, it's a great book for adults with a message we need to have reinforced frequently. For children -- if they are old enough to understand it, they're probably teens who wouldn't be caught dead with a picture book.

The Book

The Julie Andrews Collection/Harper Collins Publishers
September 2003
Full-color Picture Book with Song on CD
Age Level: Preschool - Grade 4
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NOTE: Holiday: Thanksgiving

The Reviewer

Jan Fields
Reviewed 2005
© 2005