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Book Review: This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano, Illustrated by Mark Elliot

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This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano is a rhyming picture book that explores prayer through the prayer of a small child.

“I know you’re up I heaven, God, and can hear my voice from there.
I’m just a little child. Will you answer my short prayer?”

The book moves through various situations in which prayer is comforting and seeks for direction to make the right decisions, before thanking God for His blessings, asking to become more like Him and wondering about what the future will bring. The simple text uses short, clear, rhyming phrases that carry young children along through the rich art that fills its pages.

Illustrated by Mark Elliot, his softly photo-realistic paintings are somewhat reminiscent of David Hohn’s work in God Loves Me More Than That, albeit generally portraying more realistic scenes. Each slightly muted, two-page spread generally deals with life-like scenes from childhood with the exception of an imaginary scene involving great quantities of treasure, and the speculative ponderings of the two siblings as they contemplate the careers they may pursue in the future.

Best suited for toddlers and preschoolers, my younger children enjoy sitting on me knee as I read through this brief, sweet introduction to various situations we can pray through. Whether scared, sad, lonely, confused, happy, or thankful, little ones will learn that God is always there to listen regardless of their size or age. My seven-year-old seems to feel that the book is too simple for her and usually wanders off while I’m reading it. I personally suspect she feels that the text is talking down to her, which is unfortunately common in many picture books.

God is portrayed in general terms of deism; no mention is made of Jesus and of being privileged to come directly before God in His name. The last page is also somewhat theologically iffy as it closes with the child asking, “Please love me God, forevermore. That’s all I want. Amen.” Clearly, the Bible is full of references of God’s love towards us, even before our belief in Him. John 3:16 comes to mind.

These concerns lead me to the conclusion that This Little Prayer of Mine contains more parent-appeal than it does lasting value for children. Lacking the qualities that make a picture book a classic, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this well-intended title fade into obscurity. If you were hunting for a single picture book to add to your home library, I’d advise you to keep on looking.

About Jennifer Bogart