[review + giveaway] For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day

“Everything in nature is a wonderful miracle!/Isn’t the little bird flying through the big sky a miracle?” ~ Amma

Walk barefoot in the sand and curl your toes in the water. Listen to the “winging, singing, whispery sounds” of earth’s creatures. Marvel at a ballet of butterflies, a sky full of stars. Feel the cool air after a fresh rain.

For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day (Eerdmans BFYR, 2021), is a joyous love letter to the world and all we hold dear within it, truly a wonderful way to acknowledge nature’s vast bounty of gifts as well as the friends and family who sustain us.

With about 70 child friendly selections carefully curated by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, this beautifully illustrated inspirational anthology features 51 diverse voices affirming the spiritual rewards of being present and expressing gratitude for wonders large and small.

Young readers are treated to untold delights from morning to night — ordinary moments throughout the day that happily and surprisingly warrant celebration. 

How marvelous to wake up with sloppy puppy kisses, greet the sun that’s bouncing on the bedroom wall like a yellow beach ball, and feel God’s presence everywhere, especially within ourselves. It’s empowering to know that as we experience the world through our own personal lenses, we’re validating our place in it.

MY BEAUTIFUL DAY
by Marion Schoeberlein

I borrowed a poem from the sky,
and music from a bird,
I stole a chime out of the wind,
and from the rose a word,
I borrowed a song from the hills,
a psalm from the silver rain,
I took the footsteps of angels
out of a cobbled lane,
from each little thing I fashioned
something in my own way,
with God's help I put in my heart
a wonderful, beautiful day!

Simple, accessible language and an abundance of sensory details engage readers throughout the book, encouraging them to slow down, look closer, savor, and appreciate. Whether a charming two-line snippet of wisdom or a lyrical five stanza blessing, there’s a welcome positivity and reassurance in the soul nourishing words.

Classic and contemporary selections by poets of multiple faiths and cultures are presented in seven sections: 

  • Morning
  • The World Around Us
  • Graces and Blessings
  • Love and Kindness
  • Family and Friends
  • Nightfall
  • Dreams

After rejoicing at the miracle of a new day dawning in Morning, readers enjoy the many pleasures of garden, sea, and forest in The World Around Us. The fireflies are back! Discover bugs under the leaves and study the dancing butterflies as they loop, spin and pirouette. Have you ever wanted to fly through the sky and wrap your arms around everything in sight — to “touch the blue;/all made by God/for me and you?”

In Graces and Blessings, readers can learn to say “thank you” in several languages and ask for God’s guidance and protection. Acknowledging a power greater than ourselves makes every small act, whether playing a musical instrument, baking bread, planting seeds, or reading a book, more meaningful.

I especially like the poems in Love and Kindness because they assure children that they are not too small or insignificant to make a difference in today’s world. It is easy to feel powerless and hopeless with all the talk of war, natural disasters, and pandemics, but practicing compassion and pledging not to harm living creatures are options we all possess. Random acts of kindness are never wasted, and when children develop this sense of caring, they’ve taken the first step towards becoming stewards of the planet as well as empathic members of their own communities.

THE POWER OF ONE
by Betty Williamson

One candle can light a great dark room,
one smile can lift the saddest heart,
one word can give the hopeless hope,
and one person, taking a tiny part,
can change the world for good or bad,
but, oh, the power of good!
We need to believe in the power of one --
could it start with me? Yes, it could.

In Family and Friends, several poems remind us that it’s just as important to “be” a good friend as it is to have one. Family and home, where are hearts truly reside, provide comfort, shelter, and safety. 

Nightfall is a time to reflect on the day’s events and sing our praises to the “goldenface” sun, as he takes his leave until tomorrow. The light of God is ever with us, in sunlight, moonlight and starlight.

As kids are tucked into their warm, comfy beds, it’s nice to think about the animals who are also settling down for the night, as in this excerpt from Tim Myers’ poem, “If You Feel Alone in Bed”:

wolves with tails across their noses;
bees who dream of morning roses;
squirrels rocking high in trees;
camels settling to their knees;

And nighttime is the time for lullabies; I love this one with its soothing, mesmerizing cadence:

LULLABY
by Daniel Roselle

Slowly, slowly, slowly now
by the fading of the light
the day finds calm and comfort
in the silence of the night.

Softly, softly, softly now
like whispers filled with love
the playful sounds of day are hushed
by the peace of stars above.

Sweetly, sweetly, sweetly now
have dreams of rainbow hue
oh, sleep well, my lovely one
God's blanket covers you.

Slowly, softly, sweetly now
God's blanket covers you.

The calming and imaginative poems in the final section, Dreams, take readers on sleepy time journeys via ocean swells, winged creatures, trains and magic carpets. Children’s heads may be resting on their pillows, but their dreamscapes include swimming with dolphins, soaring with the Great Owl of Dreams, or going Somewhere, all the while knowing God is watching over them. 

For Every Little Thing, geared for ages 4-10, is perfect for dipping into any time of day for a quiet moment of reflection away from busy routines. It’s especially suitable for bedtime sharing, when parent and child can read any of the poems, graces, or blessings together, then discuss the special moments they experienced earlier that day. 

Helen Cann’s endpapers.

Helen Cann’s soft-hued watercolor, pencil and collage illustrations showcase nature’s wonders in rich detail and feature familiar scenes and objects that will resonate with kids. She actually had me at the endpapers, an inviting preview of treasures to come that readers will enjoy identifying: starfish, feather, ladybug, seashell, caterpillar, beetle, moth.

There are beautiful and evocative double page spreads that capture the exhiliration of soaring above farmlands, the hushed miracle of sunrise slowly illuminating the landscape piece by piece, and the coziness of camping out and toasting marshmallows in an open fire.

Each section begins with its own gorgeous image, and throughout, the poems are framed with delightful borders and spot illos, everything from colorful kites and rows of adorable sandaled feet, to birds perched on leafy branches. Sheer poetry for the eyes.

I like that luminaries such as Emily Dickinson, Helen Keller, Christina Rossetti and Rudolf Steiner are featured in this anthology along with many new to me poets. I was also happy to come across poems by online friends Barbara Younger, Charles Ghigna, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Kenn Nesbitt, and Nancy herself, who has four fabulous poems in the book.

Perspectives old and new, poems pensive and whimsical, prayers and blessings that open the heart — all  help us to say thank you for every little thing that lights up our lives. 

What will you be grateful for today?

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FOR EVERY LITTLE THING: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day
poems selected by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling
illustrated by Helen Cann
published by Eerdmans BFYR, September 2021
Poetry Anthology for ages 4-10, 96 pp.
*Junior Library Guild Gold Selection*

♥️ Enjoy the Official Book Trailer:

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🌺 SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY! 🐝

The publisher is generously providing a copy of For Every Little Thing for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EST) Wednesday, October 13, 2021. You may also enter by sending an email with “Celebrate” in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to residents of the U.S. only, please. Good Luck!

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♥️ Check out all the other BLOG TOUR stops (click on graphic for access to live links for each blog):

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The beautiful and talented Irene Latham is hosting the Roundup at Live Your Poem. Scurry on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Enjoy all the fall miracles around you this weekend!


*This post contains Amazon and Bookshop Affiliate links. When you purchase an item using either link, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee at no additional cost to you. Choose Bookshop to support independent bookstores. Thank you!

**Interior spreads text copyright © 2021 June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrations © 2021 Helen Cann, published by Eerdmans BFYR. All rights reserved.

***Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

54 thoughts on “[review + giveaway] For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day

  1. Jama,
    I felt peaceful just reading the poems . Thank you. I find so many wonderful children’s books in your reviews. This is another one that is special and would make a great gift. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am thankful for your beautiful blog posts that greet me in the morning as the sun rises! I am also grateful for the two stray cats who greet me each morning looking for some breakfast! It all like a prayer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, you know how much I love this book, Jama. Don’t put me in the giveaway, and thanks for a wonderful post reminding me again how special this book is, in words & art. I, too, love those endpapers! Happy Firday

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a buy for me. I still have young grandchildren who hopefully slow down with me to read about the small things. Thank you, Jama, for presenting a lovely book this time of year.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This book is beautiful! I enjoy poetry, especially for children, and also enjoy writing it. This book is a treasure and I am adding it to my wish list. Thank you for the lovely post and chance to win a copy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This one reminds me a great deal of The Reeve Lindburgh book, In Every Tiny Grain of Sand from a few years back — I love that cover, it just sings New England/East Coast to me. The artwork is just soaked in rich colors that make you want to hug the whole book. Eerdmans always puts out such gorgeous, gorgeous books.

    ::sigh::

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I vaguely remember Lindbergh’s book (sounds familiar). Will have to look for it again. The art in this book is its own kind of poetry. 🙂

      Like

    1. I roughly counted 70 selections — not all are poems (some are bits of wisdom in a couple of lines, while others are prayers/graces or blessings (do they count as “poems”?).

      Like

  7. The poems…the illustrations…the poems….the illustrations. My goodness, what a beautiful visit with peace and beauty and exactly what every young person needs as part of their grounding. Thank you for this post. I so look forward to opening this book in person.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. the intersection between nature and spirituality that is highlighted in these poems really speaks to me. I especially liked the poem about sleeping alone. I feel as though i could cuddle up to that every night. Thanks for sharing the book with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jama, this is a book for all to fill their days with gratitude for living. My little granddaughters will love each poem and illustration. I have to say that some of your paragraphs sound like prose poems so I am deeply grateful for the gift you bring to the world of kidlit-amazing reviews of gorgeous books. I had to tweet this post and book out into the twitterverse so i just sent it on its way.

    Liked by 1 person

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