Most of us are familiar with “sleeper” movies, but how many people have stumbled across a “sleeper” picture book? I’m happy to say that I did!
When Daddy Prays, by Nikki Grimes, debuted in 2002, but it’s just as moving today. It is a true sleeper, in that its quiet cover does not prepare the reader for the treasure chest of emotional gems that are nestled inside its pages.
Ms. Grimes uses a compilation of moving poems to tell the story of a young, impressionable boy whose life, beliefs and even day-to-day rituals are molded by his father’s larger-than-life personality. The father prays for his children when they go out to play, and even when they are listening to him pray–because he wants the children to hear the voice of God and not his own mortal words.
He prays for protection when his son’s school bus is running late; he prays when his son comes up to bat on the baseball field and it looks like the game may depend on him; and he prays that his son remembers to always be grateful for the food God provides–even when meatless soup is all they have because the money has run out.
This is a book about the power of love and the unbreakable bonds of a father, his children, and the God they love.
Ms. Grimes’ poems can be described the same way the movie character Forrest Gump gave his description of life: they are “like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’ll get.” But you can rest assured that each poem is guaranteed to be more sweet and as soul-satisfying than the one before.
Artist Tim Ladwig’s immense talent does not disappoint. In fact, his illustrations shine through like the sun. His colors are rich, the scenes sprawl across the page like the big outdoors, and the facial expressions jerk readers back to their own childhoods when father- or parent-worship was a way of life.
This book will bring a smile to your lips and a tear to your eyes, and will have you reaching for the telephone to call your dear old dad.