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WHEN DADDY PRAYS by Nikki Grimes


by Nikki Grimes & illustrated by Tim Ladwig

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8028-5152-5
Publisher: Eerdmans

Fourteen graceful poems portray a small boy’s relationship with his prayerful father. Whether the narrator is at bat for his team, coming home from school, helping to weed a garden, or being tucked in at night, he “hears” his father praying. Each poem in a different cadence fits the mood of the experience. The title poem is almost a lullaby: “When Daddy prays / my fear of darkness disappears / and angels tiptoe down the hall. / I hear them through the door and wall. / They whisper in a velvet husssshhh / that floats me off to sleep / when Daddy prays.” Several of the poems seem to be from an adult perspective rather than a small boy’s. Finding his Daddy in prayer, he kneels beside him knowing what to say: “Our Father, whose heart is heaven . . . ” The first poem entitled “A Father’s Prayer” reads, in part, “May my children see / beyond my muscles / to your strength. / May they find across my broad shoulders / the imprint of your wings.” Bold, strong pictures match the poetry and anchor the writing in an everyday world. Daddy is a tall, muscular man, at times overpowering the pictures and projecting a protective feeling very much in keeping with the poetry. Predominant colors of deep browns and yellows depict an African-American family in a warm home atmosphere. Close-ups of father and son contrast with outdoor scenes and give liveliness to the pages. The jacket is striking and depicts the small boy dressed in his Daddy’s clothes, looking in a mirror in which the image of his father looks out, dressed in the same clothes as the child. A unique offering for a family read-aloud. (Poetry. 4-6)