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'Poor Wayfaring Man' book mesmerizes child

"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," Text by James Montgomery, Illustrated by Sarah Merkley. Granite Publishing and Distribution. $19.95 (Currently on sale for $8.99).__IMAGE1__When I first brought the art book "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" home I didn't think that my children would find it very interesting. It was, after all, based on a 19th-century hymn, and the vocabulary is a bit impenetrable for small children. Or so I thought.It turns out that Sarah Merkley's paintings are so compelling and sensitively created that it drew my kids in. The interpretive paintings brought life to the hymn in a way that not only captivates children, but that also engages adults in a transformational encounter with the Savior.The hymn itself is particularly familiar to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a favorite of Hyrum Smith and is noteworthy because it was sung in Carthage Jail by President John Taylor right before Hyrum and his brother Joseph were martyred.The complicated vocabulary is no harder to understand than the scriptures. Explaining the words to children while pointing to the illustrations made the book interactive. It isn't that difficult, either, to substitute more familiar words while reading — something you might want to do in any book. Of course, singing the book is also a way to enjoy it.And, most surprising of all, is that a hymn that is famous for being long could seem so short. I even had to check the hymnal to make sure all the verses were there. They are.This is book that will feel equally well on a child's bedroom shelf or on a living room coffee table.



E-mail: mdegroote@desnews.com