The distinguished naturalist Goodall presents an ecumenical exhortation.
“We pray / to the Great Spiritual Power / in which we live and move / and have our being.” Thus she begins, and she goes on to preach against greed, slave labor, abuse of animals, bullying and torture, harm to the natural world, and all the other grave errors of this time in history. She seems set on cataloging every ill against humankind and animalkind, as well as environmental sins. She offers many strong, heartfelt words, but there is little rhythm or cadence to the sermon, and the almost granular iterations of victimhood threaten to overwhelm. On just one page she cries out against animal experimentation, agribusiness, the fur industry, hunting and trapping, “training for entertainment,” and pet abuse, for instance. The text is set on full-bleed double-page spreads of great beauty. The Iranian artist uses great swathes of clear color and pattern and places birds, animals, flowers, and human figures against them in abstract patterns. Her art gives the words an energy they lack on their own. The book closes with a message from Goodall as the U.N. Messenger of Peace, notes about the Jane Goodall Institute, her Roots & Shoots organization, and a biography of the artist.
Though sincere, this prayer may have the unintended effect of numbing rather than inspiring. (Picture book/homily. 7-12)