Name of Book: Grateful
Author: John Bucchino
Illustrator: Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Audience: Ages 3 -8
Summary: Grateful is a song put into a storybook that shares how thankful and blessed a person is for the tangible and intangible things in life. The song speaks to choosing gratitude over counting the number of wants a person does not have. The narrator shares his/her gratitude for a house, family and friends, a heart of love, a shepherding hand, and more. The book includes a CD recording of Art Garfunkel singing the song Grateful, as well as pages of the musical score for musicians.
Literary elements at work in the story: The story is told from a first person point of view of the reader/narrator. The narrator has no name, rather is referred to as “I” throughout the story. Given that this is a song, there is no real plot line to the story other than a person sharing his/her attitude of thanksgiving for life’s blessings, even in times of despair and hardship. The setting is generic and can be applied to most reader’s lives.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economic/ability make a difference to the story? The illustrator has rendered the main character portraits gender neutral, but all of the characters drawn in the book are fair-skinned. There is no reference to ability in the story, but the characters are seen to be in good health and able-bodied. The song/story references a “family of friends” and a “roof over head” which can be alienating to children who do not have a home of their own or many family and friends. While the theme encourages children to be thankful for what they do have, it is somewhat limited to those who have and exclusive of those who don’t have certain tangibles.
Scripture: Psalm 23
Theology: We believe in God’s providential care over creation. God does not abandon us, rather God is faithful in God’s love and care for all of creation. We cannot escape from the love and care of God. Even when we are facing times of trail or despair, God’s shepherding hand is with us to guide. When we recognize the gifts and blessings bestowed upon us by God, through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we are able to sing and dance rather than weep and mourn. As children of God we are to live into the fullness of life in God, being grateful for the blessing of life and God’s providential care for us and all of creation.
Faith Talk Questions
- What do you have in your life to be thankful and grateful for?
- Are there things that you do want that you don’t have?
- In the story we read about a hand to guide us. Is this God’s hand like the Shepherd in the Psalm?
- God gave us Jesus to show us how to be thankful. Is it hard to be thankful all the time?
- What helps you stay grateful/thankful when you have bad or sad days?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Katie Todd
Grateful by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.