A couple of young hippopotami receive instruction in the ease and pleasure of prayer in this vapid if well-meant outing.
When Harley and Hayley spot a silhouetted pelican sitting on a roof, they think it's an angel. Upon realizing that Pouch is corporeal, Harley is disappointed. He had momentarily hoped to have a close encounter with heaven, but, "We'll NEVER get that close to God." Not so, burbles Pouch. Anyone can be close to God. "That's what prayer is for!" But Harley's book, The Rules of Prayer, say that prayer is hard, he protests. Pouch is joined by a group of kibitzing animals who, rule by rule, contradict the prescriptions in the book and offer liberating encouragement. You don't have to wear special clothes or be in a special place; you don't have to kneel or fold your hands (an especial problem for animals); you can shout and laugh in your prayers. The text is purely pedestrian, unfurling line after line of purposive dialogue. The illustrations are bland cartoons with little to no subtlety in composition, color or expression. The result is a wholly didactic package that delivers a positive and worthwhile message with no art whatsoever.
Skip this treacle and opt for Rachel Rivett and Mique Moriuchi’s I Imagine (2011) or Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Sean Qualls' Who Will I Be, Lord? (2009) for more artful treatments of children's communication with God.(Picture book/religion. 3-5)