I Pray You’ll Be… (Book Review)

  • Author: Hannah C. Hall
  • Illustrator: Catalin Ardeleanu
  • Publisher: WorthyKids
  • Available Now
  • Synopsis: Imaginatively illustrated and beautifully told, this sweet rhyming picture book relays the prayers of a parent.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

Eph. 3:20

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Phil. 1:6

Spiritual Themes

Although I usually choose just one verse for the Scripture Connection, I selected two this time. I feel that, together, they cover the book’s key themes. I Pray You’ll Be… is about a parent’s prayer for his or her child. The act of praying conveys the speaker’s confidence in God to be the One carrying these things out (Phil. 1:6), while the prayers themselves, in their bold imaginativeness, fit with the promises of Ephesians 3:20.

There are so many fantastic themes explored, through these prayers! There are prayers about the child loving others, making the right choice even when it’s hard, and finding their worth in God, among other things.

What I Liked

Writing

I Pray You’ll Be is not a standard narrative, so the writing conveys a message, rather than telling a story. While it’s not the first picture book of this sort that I have read, it is one of the more powerful and effective ones. The messages conveyed are so very beautiful. I actually started tearing up, pretty early in the book. I have no idea how picture books get nominated for awards, but I feel that this book merits an award!

Here are some of my personal highlights:

  • Hall describes the child’s skin as “a gift,” adding that their neighbor’s skin is “a masterpiece.” (This is where I started tearing up.) I so appreciated this simple, but beautiful ode to cultural diversity as a beautiful creation of God.
  • The very first prayer is about courage to do the right thing. I like that the prayer is not just about morality, but about choosing to trust God in the moments that are scary. This is such a great prayer, not only for children, but also for adults. In fact, most, if not all, of the prayers in the book are also very applicable to adults. Likewise, the various stanzas about God being in charge are encouraging for everyone. The book’s universalness makes it both powerful and effective, regardless of audience.
  • The writing is strong, with meaningful juxtapositions that convey meaningful nuance. For instance, the speaker prays that the child will “bravely battle bad guys,” but also “show those bad guys mercy.” Likewise, the speaker prays that the child will “give in secret,” but with bold kindness, and “conquer mighty mountains, / but do it for the view.”

Illustrations

Delightfully, the illustrations tell their own unique stories, often beyond the words on the page. In the first prayer, for example, we see a little boy having to choose whether or not to tell the truth about a broken fishbowl. He is tempted to blame the cat (depicted as a tiger on the left page), but ultimately, he comes clean, in more ways than one. The right page shows the housecat, and the boy with a mop (The fish is fine and is hanging out in a plastic bag).

Other scenes capture adventurous moments: a boy pedaling through the air on a bicycle airship, girls in knight armor juggling swords; a mountaintop, a castle, and even a dragon. Toward the end of the book, we see a child in his bedroom and we see various toys and artifacts that inspired the imaginative settings, throughout the book. As a note, the illustrations at the beginning and end of the book depict a little, brown-haired boy. However, throughout the pages of prayers, we see a few different boys and girls featured.

Content Notes

This is very tiny, but the picture with the boy’s room shows him holding some kind of stuffed person toy. It doesn’t look like a doll, per se, but it’s also not an action figure, either. I do feel that there should be different toys for boys and girls, and I’m not all that familiar with children’s toys, either. I mention this simply because of the cultural climate. (But it’s really not a big detail in the book).

Recommendation Status

I Pray You’ll Be… is a highly encouraging read! While it’s a picture book that’s clearly geared for children, I found the prayers to be relevant to adults, too. This was a very sweet read– well written and imaginative. Minor content note for the toy in the boy’s room, but overall highly recommended.

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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